New Zealand marketer Zespri says it expects to sell its biggest-ever volume of New Zealand-grown SunGold kiwifruit in Europe this season as it continues its impressive recovery from Psa, the disease that stalled its progress in developing the market for previous cultivar Hort16A.
Europe is understood to be “more than ready” to absorb the larger tonnage, which will amount to around 10m trays compared with 6.6m last year, well above the previous record of 6.9m trays set by Zespri Gold prior to the outbreak.
SunGold is said to be finding considerable favour with consumers and retailers alike, encouraged in particular by trials and tastings across the continent.
This year, the company is planning to sell around 38m-39m trays of Zespri Green from New Zealand to customers in Europe. But, for the first time in the company’s history, the first vessels bringing New Zealand kiwifruit into the market are carrying nothing but SunGold.
They are scheduled to arrive in the Port of Zeebrugge from 28 April, while the first Hayward are due to land around two weeks later.
Growing the market for SunGold while maintaining sales of Green emerge as very much the priorities for Zespri, but whereas the supply lines for Zespri Green are active throughout the year thanks to counter-seasonal supply in Europe, joining up the two hemispheres for SunGold will take a few years as new production in Italy and France gradually comes into play.
“We’re probably one or two years away from making the connection between New Zealand and Europe [on SunGold],” reveals Zespri Europe general manager Bert Barmans.
“With the volumes we’re getting now, I don’t think we’ll have a longer season than last year. We expect to finish SunGold in the second half of September. We don’t want to sell for longer than that. Linking up Europe and New Zealand will take longer because we finished selling European SunGold in January. We don’t have the volumes yet but we are very optimistic about SunGold in Europe.”