NZ: Zespri, Turners & Growers sign MoU for kiwifruit sales in Southeast Asia

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NZ: Zespri, Turners & Growers sign MoU for kiwifruit sales in Southeast Asia

Two of New Zealand's leading fruit companies have signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) to combine forces in four Southeast Asian countries, after receiving approval from regulator Kiwifruit New Zealand (KNZ).

The deal, signed during Fruit Logistica in Berlin today, means Turners & Growers (NZX: TUR) will be selling Zespri-branded kiwifruit in Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia and Laos through the opening of a new office in Bangkok.

"The MoU between Turners & Growers and Zespri signals a new era in a closer working relationship for the benefit of our respective growers and stakeholders," Zespri collaborative marketing manager Warren Young said, adding he had been working on the arrangement with T&G's Sarah McCormack for two years.

Zespri's Peter McBride and Baywa's Klaus Lutz signed the MoU today at Fruit Logistica in Berlin.

Zespri's Peter McBride and BayWa's Klaus Lutz signed the MoU today at Fruit Logistica in Berlin.

Young told the MoU essentially meant thw two companies would look for opportunities to work together in the region.

"We’ve identified Thailand as a market for Zespri that is a smaller market, still has good development opportunities, but doesn’t warrant us alone doing it, so the partnership with T&G in Thailand, the critical mass that creates allows them to open an office in Thailand," he said.

BayWa CEO Klaus Lutz, whose company owns T&G, told participants at the fair that when the takeover took place a couple of years ago the Zespri-T&G relationship was "not easy".

"Now, we are in a different situation...the deals we make in the future, the gross margin, the profit, bottom line, will be in favor of all participants in this Memorandum of Understanding," he said.

"I think BayWa’s investment in Turners & Growers has been a real catalyst for change, and for our companies to come together," added Zespri chairman Peter McBride.

Much of the conflict prior to BayWa's takeover of T&G related to the company's proprietary kiwifruit varieties, with legal cases aiming to provide greater marketing opportunities for these cultivars. However, BayWa's message after the acquisition was to "bury the hatchet" and work together.

When asked whether the Southeast Asian deal's potential for sales of T&G's proprietary varieties - including Enza Gold which is sold in Australia and elsewhere - Young indicated it was probably off the cards in Thailand.

"Interestingly, the intention is for them not to sell the [T&G] proprietary varieties in Thailand," he said.

"The intention would be to do something in Myanmar or Cambodia, but the only kiwifruit they’ll be selling in Thailand will be Zespri green and gold."



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