NZ: Thompson, Bayly claim kiwifruit duopoly export leak "misrepresentative"

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NZ: Thompson, Bayly claim kiwifruit duopoly export leak "misrepresentative"

A former Zespri director and the sales manager of a New Zealand fruit company have demanded answers from the country's national kiwifruit body over documents about alternative export proposals that were leaked to Fairfax Media. Kiwifruit and skin

The Fairfax story claimed Southern Fresh Fruit Exports (SFFE) sales manager John Thompson was proposing a new kiwifruit export structure that would give a new entity, Southern Fresh Kiwifruit Exports (SFKE), an exclusive foothold in China.

Thompson told the story was based on "outdated" collaborative marketing arrangement proposals given to regulator Kiwifruit New Zealand (KNZ) in November, which were supposed to be confidential and were not accepted by the authority.

"KNZ and Zespri were the only ones who had access to those documents," said Thompson, who is also president of free market-oriented political party ACT New Zealand, whose acronym comes from 'Association of Consumers and Taxpayers'.

"This has been an orchestrated attack on me," he added.

Former KNZ and Zespri director Mark Bayly, who was also involved in the proposal, said it was "inappropriate" that the documentation was leaked in the way it was, given it was not representative of how far the initiative had come since late last year.

He said the application was based on New Zealand's Kiwifruit Industry Restructuring Act 1999, which allows for the creation of new marketers.

"The benefits of what we're doing is to try and increase returns to growers, and that's through greater governance, testability and transparency," Bayly told

"If we were basing it on our current document with where we were at, that would have been more appropriate and we would have been able to go through it and talk about that, but what was leaked is the document that was used to start the discussions with all the initial concepts.

"We've gone through and had discussions with Zespri and had further documents, and have clarified which parts are acceptable and which ones are not."

Bayly said that since then he and Thompson had met with many growers in New Zealand to discuss the new concept, which, contrary to the Fairfax report, would not give exclusivity to the new entity.

"At the moment you've got Zespri and then you've got other exporters of record who are collaborative marketers, but they are all falling under the Zespri system," Bayly said.

"What we are looking at doing is working up a structure whereby various marketers will contract with the exporter of note, and what it will effectively do is operate along the same lines as what collaborative marketing does, but removes the absolute vetoing power that Zespri has.

"KNZ would argue that many of the applications that Zespri opposes are approved, but in this case of China, in the files that I've got, I don't think that argument holds up. I think there has been an attempt to provide Zespri with much greater autonomy; the contestibility from the regulations hasn't been allowed for in this case.


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