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Zespri Kiwifruit will now conduct its own China imports

April 24, 2016
Lain Jager, Zespri CEO, speaks at an April 21 event in Shanghai

Lain Jager, Zespri CEO, speaks at an April 21 event in Shanghai

On April 21, 2016, Zespri, New Zealand’s national kiwifruit producer, revealed changes to its 2016 business model. At an event held in Shanghai and attended by New Zealand Prime Minister John Key, Zespri announced it will now import kiwifruit to China on its own.

“This change will allow Zespri to have greater autonomy of import and distribution networks, letting us provide consumers with a more solid quality guarantee. This change is also for Chinese consumers, as it creates an important first step in an integrated and mature supply chain", said Lain Jager, Zespri’s Chief Executive Officer. Jager explained that most changes are of a transitional and technical nature, meaning Zespri will now control the supply line from New Zealand to China.

By conducting its own customs clearances, Zespri will more quickly supply its Chinese distributors with kiwifruit. Additionally, the company will use its own cold storage facilities to strictly control product quality. In the past, customers ordered kiwis from New Zealand and the fruit was then shipped to China, a process taking up to three weeks. Now, with centralized transfers to China, it is possible for the company to provide fruit directly to buyers within 24-48 hours. The change also means Zespri will assume more responsibility in fruit quality and safety, with wholesalers and consumers enjoying higher quality products.

Zespri announced that 2016 China exports of kiwifruit are expected to reach new highs. The company estimates it will sell 24 million 3.3-kilogram boxes this year. This represents a 33 percent increase compared to sales of 18 million cases in 2015, and a more than 100 percent increase compared to 2014 sales. Based on these projections, this year China will surpass Japan to become the largest export market for Zespri fruit.

In 2015, Zespri Corporation and the Shaanxi provincial government signed a memorandum of understanding concerning the domestic production of kiwifruit in China. In an interview with Produce Report, Mr Jager said his company expects the newly announced changes to be implemented within two years, adding it could take up to five. However, he continued, Zespri does not want to speed up the pace unnecessarily, and instead will focus on food safety and product quality as the company’s primary concerns. Additionally, Zespri will set up offices in Chongqing, Guangzhou and Xi'an to expand its customer base and logistical capacity.

Lain Jager, Zespri CEO, speaks at an April 21 event in Shanghai

Lain Jager, Zespri CEO, speaks at an April 21 event in Shanghai

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