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Zespri licenses more SunGold plantings

The New Zealand kiwifruit marketer is releasing a further 400ha of gold variety SunGold for planting this year

Zespri licenses more SunGold plantings

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At the start of what it expects to be a record-breaking season, Zespri has announced the release of a further 400ha of its gold kiwifruit variety SunGold for planting this year.

The Zespri Board has also signalled that – subject to the product’s peformance and future global demand – it will release an additional 400ha of SunGold licences each year in 2017, 2018, 2019.

Zespri chairman Peter McBride said the decision had been made in response to overwhelming global demand for the variety.

“The SunGold variety was at the cornerstone of the industry’s recovery from Psa. It is clear now that not only has the variety carried the industry through the Psa crisis, it is the engine that will drive our industry’s future growth,” said McBride.

“At today’s returns for SunGold, should the full 1,600ha be released, it will mean more than NZ$200m in export revenue to New Zealand. Even before the decision to release more licences was made, SunGold was on track to earn NZ$1bn in sales revenue by 2017.”

In making its decision, McBride said the Zespri Board had to balance the fact that SunGold is still a relatively new product with the overwhelmingly positive customer and consumer feedback from the market.

“We have adopted a prudent approach to making a release this year and signalling the further release of hectares based on how SunGold performs this season.”

Zespri CEO Lain Jager said the confidence in the variety came from SunGold’s excellent performance across Zespri’s 56 country markets over the past two years.

“SunGold has generated tremendous excitement across our markets,” said Jager. “For example, last year SunGold was voted by fruit consumers in Spain and Germany as the best new fruit product on the market.”

Mr Jager said the mechanism and pricing for releasing the additional SunGold hectares was yet to be determined. However, both existing growers and new growers will have the opportunity to participate in the release. 

2016 campaign under way

Zespri is now picking and packing its first fruit of the 2016 season, and Jager said that the company expects similar volumes of green to last season – at around 77m trays – and another strong increase in the SunGold crop.

“SunGold volumes have been steadily increasing as most vines were grafted in 2012 and are now reaching full production,” he explained. “Volumes have risen from from 11m trays in 2014 to 27m trays last season and we’re looking at another strong rise again in 2016. The post-harvest industry has invested many millions in infrastructure to deal with this increase in crop volumes.”

Zespri earned nearly NZ$2bn in sales revenue last season and this is set to grow again in 2016, according to Jager.

Zespri has chartered 68 refrigerated reefer vessels this season and another 10,500 containers to ship its fruit to 56 countries around the world.

China to leapfrog Japan

The MV Procyon is set to sail next week for Japan, which has long been Zespri’s number one market for volume and value. Japan achieved record sales of 21m trays last season, up 13 per cent on the previous season’s volume.

China is set overtake Japan as Zespri’s largest country market by volume this season. Sales increased 50 per cent in China last season to hit 18m trays and Zespri is forecasting another strong increase in sales this season.

A full interview on Zespri’s SunGold strategy with global president of sales and marketing Daniel Mathieson and chief operating officer Simon Limmer features in the March edition of Asiafruit. To order you copy, email to 

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