Zespri Reports Strong Forecast for European Kiwi Harvest
- by Melissa De Leon Chavez
MOUNT MAUNGANUI, NEW ZEALAND - Buyers and kiwifruit-crazed consumers can breathe a sigh of relief after hearing the news that Zespri International's European kiwifruit harvest is again set to meet expectations for volume and quality. With strong global kiwifruit demand, Zespri strategically partners with growers across the world to provide steady access to the tastiest fruits they can grow.
“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,” said Sheila McCann-Morrison, Chief International Production Officer.
Contending with natural pests and diseases can prove a challenge, which is why Zespri is involved in a number of trials to help local growers overcome these threats.
“Brown Marmorated Stink Bug is having a huge impact on European crops including kiwifruit and so we’re working with locals to address this threat, as well as continuing to invest significantly with our partners on mitigating the impact of the vine-killing disease Psa,” McCann-Morrison commented in a press release. “Our industry knows first-hand the risks associated with biosecurity and the significant costs associated with an incursion—if we can find ways to reduce the impact then the benefits will be immense.”
Zespri’s Northern Hemisphere harvest is currently underway, and the company is expecting to harvest around 19 million trays, or almost 70 tonnes of kiwifruit from orchards throughout France, Italy, and Greece.
“Despite the challenges, this season’s Northern Hemisphere crop is still expected to be around the same as the record set last year. That’s going to mean we can again provide strong returns to the local industry which is something we’re very proud of,” McCann-Morrison added. “And more broadly, with this fruit being grown and picked by locals and packed in local post-harvest facilities, we're continuing to strengthen our relationships with the local industry and make a positive local impact.”
Around 750 families make up Zespri’s European growers, and they all play a key role in the company’s global supply strategy, which supplies premium Zespri Kiwifruit all year round. Global demand for premium kiwifruit is on the rise, making the relationships that Zespri has formed with its European growers for more than 20 years all the more important.
“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,” said McCann-Morrison. “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. It’s also helping foster further collaboration including technical exchange through R&D, grower workshops and nursery visits in New Zealand, and other general support—all of which are helping boost production.”
Market access is another significant focus for Zespri as it chases growth and expansion.
“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. Global supply, or Zespri Kiwifruit grown outside of New Zealand, is currently around 10 percent of all the fruit sold internationally by Zespri, but that will increase significantly along with demand,” continued McCann-Morrison. “At the moment we have around 3,100 hectares in the ground in Europe and that’s set to grow to around 5,000 hectares over the next five years.”
It’s not just the New Zealand-grown kiwifruit that meets Zespri’s strict quality standards, all of the company’s kiwifruit grown around the world have their quality managed through the Zespri System.
“Zespri’s purpose is to help communities around the world thrive through the goodness of kiwifruit,” concluded McCann-Morrison. “European growers are some of the best in the world and it’s great to be sharing our knowledge, systems, and varieties with them, and also to be learning in return.”
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