Zespri expecting strong returns for EU growers despite challenges
New Zealand-based kiwifruit marketer Zespri is expecting strong returns for growers in Europe this season.
Despite problems with weather, disease and pests, it anticipates good outcomes for kiwifruit in Italy and France.
Chief international production officer Shelia McCann-Morrison expects production of around 19 million trays - almost 70 metric tons (MT) - from orchards in Italy, France and Greece.
“It’s been a tough season for some European growers this year, with a cold wet spring negatively affecting pollination and issues including the presence of the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug and Moira disease affecting kiwifruit and other local produce," she comments.
Zespri says that it's particularly focused on local relationships. It has had connections with European growers for more than 20 years.
The company hopes to use those relationships to “make a positive local impact”, says McCann-Morrison.
Around 750 families make up Zespri’s European growers, who play an important role in its year-round supply strategy.
“It’s a relationship that’s working incredibly well for both Italian growers, post-harvest operators and distributors, as well as for Zespri and the New Zealand industry,” McCann-Morrison adds.
“It’s helping deliver greater orchard gate returns, jobs for locals and is also leading to tens of millions of Euros being invested in orchards and post-harvest facilities."
She added that it's also helping to foster collaboration, including technical exchange through R&D, grower workshops and nursery visits in New Zealand.
Zespri highlights pest control and market access
In addition to deepening relationships with European growers, it is currently trialing new pest and disease control methods.
Specifically, the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug had been a huge issue for European crops. Zespri is investing in preventative measures to mitigate the risk of the pest.
Market access is also something the company highlights. In looking to grow their influence as a top supplier of kiwifruit internationally, Zespri plans to expand its reach.
To do so, it announced a plan to plant more hectares in Europe over the next five years.
Additionally, the company points to its goals in getting access to new markets.
“We’re committed to helping create access to new markets for European exporters as we have recently with Mexico. So, we’re ensuring an even greater number of consumers around the world can access our premium kiwifruit."