Kiwifruit marketer Zespri is aiming to double production of SunGold kiwifruit in Italy over the next five years, as it seeks to capitalise on increasing year-round for the product in Europe.
The company, which opened a new office in Bologna this week to lead the next stage of the brand's development, has worked with growers in Italy for almost two decades to produce yellow-fleshed kiwifruit, at the same time sourcing locally grown Hayward kiwifruit for sale under its Zespri Green label.
Italian SunGold production currently stands at 2,700ha, but the group says it is planning to extend this to 5,400ha of planted area by 2025.
The new premises received a traditional Maori blessing earlier this week, coinciding with a 12-day tour of Europe by New Zealand Maori kiwifruit growers and members of the Zespri team.
Zespri chief executive Dan Mathieson said the tour had enabled the growers to make and renew connections with their European counterparts, as well as underlining the marketer's commitment to Europe as a major market.
“Our hundreds of Italian and French growers are a key part of our strategy to market the world’s leading portfolio of kiwifruit 12-months a year, which is helping drive greater returns for growers and communities in New Zealand and Europe and delivering healthy, nutritious fruit to our millions of consumers," he explained.
“It’s really important we continue to build connections between our growers across the world and this Maori Growers Tour and the Bologna office blessing and carving are an important part of that," he added.
"Zespri’s ambition is to help communities all around the world thrive through the goodness of kiwifruit. We’ve been working with growers in Italy for around 20 years to do that and we plan to continue to do so."
Tour spokesperson and kiwifruit grower Pita Tipene said the blessing was a special occasion: “It’s great for us to be able to meet our colleagues in Europe, to be able to share ideas and to learn more so we can take those lessons and connections home to help create more value for our communities."