New Zealand kiwifruit marketer Zespri continues to enjoy excellent growth in the U.S. market, where it has recently launched new packaging and is now trailing production.
Speaking to FreshFruitPortal.com at PMA Fresh Summit, Sarah Deaton, Zespri's shopper marketing manager for North America, said the brand's performance in the market has been "fabulous."
"We have a 28% increase in dollar sales versus a year ago, and we're growing five times faster than total fruit. So, we are definitely on-trend," she said. "Our SunGold is the number-one branded kiwifruit in the category, up 19% versus last year season-to-date, so we're very happy about that."
Zespri CEO Dan Mathieson added that the U.S. had been one of SunGold’s "superstar markets" from a growth perspective. The variety is seeing good growth across Asia and Europe as well, he said.
"The plan is to keep growing our volumes out of New Zealand. We currently have about 6,500 hectares planted today, and we plan to extend that so that we have about 10,000 hectares by 2022-23 to supply North America as well as our other markets around the world," he said.
"We're also looking to expand our non-New Zealand supply, because we can only supply out of New Zealand for about seven or eight months and we want to supply for the whole year because the demand from consumers is so strong.
"So, we're now planting in Italy and France, and we have some trials here in North America as well - we're looking to expand those volumes so that we can have our great fruit on the shelves 12 months of the year."
Zespri recently launched new packaging for SunGold in North America, which Deaton said was aimed at embodying the brand.
"We've been doing a lot of work on our brand essence and we thought that this would be a good time to do a change and really highlight what that brand means to Zespri," she said.
"We've made sure to use bright colors - it's very lively and it really speaks to our brand."
She also mentioned the new consumer campaign called "Let Your Taste Wander", which has been a big success.
"It's reached over 400m impressions, and we've increased our in-store displays by 187%, so that means that retailers really love that campaign as well," she said,
"It's really about getting shoppers to get out of their comfort zone and tap into their adventure and their experience seeking and try something new like our Zespri SunGold."
Mathieson added that SunGold is "reinvigorating" the kiwifruit category in North America. Many shoppers are also branching out into other products in the Zespri range like Green and organics.
"We've seen great growth in those varieties as well which is great because I think more and more North American consumers are wanting to eat healthy foods and kiwifruit fits perfectly to that," he said.