New Zealand's global kiwifruit success has been built through marketing and innovation, with a consistent focus on growing delicious, healthy and nutritious fruit. Close industry and government collaboration has enabled the industry to grow internationally to provide year-round supply of the famous Zespri brand.
An increasing appetite for health and wellness has driven the “super fruit” to consistent demand around the world, with operating revenue from global kiwifruit sales and licence release revenue exceeding NZ$3 billion for the first time in 2019.
Zespri has a goal to reach more than NZ$4 billion in international sales by 2025.
Zespri International is headquartered in New Zealand where most Zespri kiwifruit is grown; however both the Green and ‘SunGold’ kiwifruit varieties are also grown in northern hemisphere regions to ensure year-round supply to global markets.
This helps to promote kiwifruit as a staple, rather than a seasonal exotic fruit. The markets for producing Zespri outside of New Zealand are Italy, France Japan, South Korea. Exports from New Zealand of the gold variety have now overtaken green.
Greater China, Europe and Japan are the three key regions for exports, with North America also growing strongly. Just over 167 million trays of kiwifruit have been sold internationally in the last year. Zespri Chair Bruce Cameron says growers and their communities are benefiting from increasing demand for Zespri Kiwifruit and from the industry’s growth to drive and meet that demand.
“Zespri’s ongoing success reflects the important partnerships we have and continue to build with our customers, distributors, post-harvest operators and growers, and is a strong endorsement of our 12-month supply strategy and ambition to market the world’s leading portfolio of kiwifruit year-round,” Mr Cameron says.
Zespri has been exporting to the China’s mainland market for more than 10 years and sales last year exceeded NZ$500 million51, up from NZ $300 million in 2016. Zespri is expanding distribution into more tier 2 cities. Zespri’s Greater China head office is based in Shanghai with mainland region offices in Beijing, Guangzhou, Xian and Chongqing.
The popularity of Zespri kiwifruit has contributed to kiwifruit now claiming a spot among the top five most popular fruit in China’s largest cities. China accounts for around 15% of annual sales volume with targets to expand this to around 20% while also growing other markets. In 2018 supply into China comprised around 8% Italian grown fruit, supporting the year-around supply strategy.
Kiwifruit is a premium imported product in China, with a tray of 18 large SunGold kiwifruit retailing for sale at premium supermarkets for approximately AUD$50. The imported fruit is preferred in Tier 1 and 2 cities where premium consumers who can afford to trade up from other fruit varieties.
Around 20% of Zespri sales in China are done through ecommerce via platforms like Alibaba and JD.com and the e-commerce platforms of major customers such as Pagoda and Fruitday, and the company uses the broad reach of social media channels such as WeChat and Weibo to deliver advertising campaigns and drive engagement with the global brand for customers in China, and those visiting New Zealand.