With the Southern Hemisphere kiwifruit season now underway, the Chilean Fruit Exporters Association (ASOEX) revived old animosities with New Zealand exporter Zespri last week by alluding to past accusations of anti-competitive behavior.
While Zespri was found guilty of such practices in 2011 in South Korea, in a release ASOEX president Ronald Bown referred to “many opportunities” in which Zespri had allegedly made the situation difficult for competitors.
Bown called on the General Directorate of International Economic Relations (DIRECON) for a national strategy to defend Chilean kiwifruit exports to ensure a global trading environment without “obstacles”.
In a response given to Fresh Fruit Portal, the New Zealand kiwifruit company wasn’t having a bar of it.
“Zespri is proudly owned by NZ kiwifruit growers and our structure complies with international WTO laws; the one finding of anticompetitive behaviour Mr Bown refers to in Korea was seven years ago and has been addressed,” Zespri spokeswoman Rachel Lynch said.
“Zespri condemns anti-competitive behaviour and is committed to acting fairly in all markets, abiding by local laws and regulations.”
Lynch reiterated former Zespri CEO Lain Jager’s “standing invitation” to ASOEX to provide information on specific matters so they can be investigated. Last year Bown told local Chilean newspaper El Mercurio he had communicated with the New Zealand company about an alleged “monopolistic attitude” in markets such as Malaysia, Japan and the United States.
“Over the past seven years, Mr Bown has provided no detail to back up these allegations nor has there been any further finding of anticompetitive behaviour against Zespri anywhere in the world,” Lynch said.
Lynch highlighted kiwifruit was just a small category globally making up less than 1% of the highly-competitive global fruit bowl, and therefore consistent quality is paramount.
“Much of the kiwifruit around the world is of variable quality, harvested immature with low dry matter and brix levels,” she said.
“Lifting fruit quality and introducing new varieties are key to growing the kiwifruit category.
“There is some very good Chilean kiwifruit in the market but its inconsistent quality undermines its positioning in the market.”