International kiwifruit marketer Zespri has heavily criticised the findings of a report published by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD), in which the economic organisation calls for Zespri's single-desk status on the country's kiwifruit exports to be removed.
In a list of recommendations on how to improve product market regulation in New Zealand, the report encouraged the revocation of "all remaining tariffs and Zespri’s export monopoly on kiwifruit".
But according to a spokesperson for Zespri, the report's findings failed to take into account the real situation with regard to the country's kiwifruit industry and its ability to compete commercially worldwide.
"The OECD recommendation has been made without any context of the history of the New Zealand kiwifruit industry or its level of success under its current structure," the spokesperson said.
According to Zespri, over the past decade the New Zealand kiwifruit industry has grown at almost 10 per cent a year, the fastest annual growth rate of any primary industry in the country. Last year it returned over NZ$1bn in export earnings.
"This impressive level of growth has been possible as a result of the single point of entry industry structure," the spokesperson said. "The structure has provided the certainty and capacity for the New Zealand kiwifruit industry to focus on delivering top quality fruit to market, meaning growers get premium returns for their efforts and customers and consumers receive exceptional quality fruit."
The OECD report observed that a key challenge for New Zealand exporters was New Zealand's distance from markets, the disadvantages of New Zealand's small size and the difficulty for New Zealand companies to understand their export markets.
"The strength of the single point of entry industry model is that it addresses these specific challenges by providing an industry cohesiveness that allows small growers and post-harvest operators to compete and succeed in the global economy," the spokesperson continued.
"Like the OECD, Zespri recognises that for the New Zealand economy to grow it must boost exports. This is why Zespri has a goal of tripling export earnings from NZ$1bn to NZ$3bn by 2025. This is an ambitious, but realistic goal, based on the strength of a unified industry structure."