For fresh produce marketing in Australia and New Zealand
Gabrielle Easter



Zespri bucking the trend in Japan

Kiwifruit imports have continued to rise in Japan despite a downturn in fruit imports, with New Zealandís Zespri flagging bigger promotions to come

Zespri bucking the trend in Japan

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Single-desk kiwifruit marketer Zespri had a record 2015 season in Japan with just over 21m trays shipped to the Asian nation.

Marked by an increase in gold volumes, Zespri Japan operations manager Hamish Robison told Asiafruit that the 2015 season's sales of Sungold have set a good tone for the future.

“With a high volume of gold kiwifruit coming into production, we’re aiming for 25m trays of kiwifruit to Japan by 2020, half of which will be gold,” Robison explained. “We’re also going to focus on the health benefits, and food safety benefits of Zespri kiwifruit to supermarkets and wholesalers.”

This past season, Zespri Japan launched a ‘14-day challenge’ mobile app to get consumers eating a kiwifruit a day for 14 days, which included information on the health benefits kiwifruit, recipes and more.

On top of that, point of purchase materials in-store as well as TV commercials pushed the nutritional aspects of kiwifruit.

“Among heavy users of kiwifruit, there is a high awareness of the benefits of consuming kiwifruit. But we want to push that message onto the younger demographic,” Robison explains. “Younger people like the sweeter taste of gold kiwifruit, which is becoming more popular. So once we get them with the sweet taste, we can then market the health benefits.”

Robison said that Zespri Japan is also expanding its team to ensure they have the resources to support the forecast increase in sales volume as more green and gold kiwifruit comes into production.

While fruit imports in Japan have been on the decline, kiwifruit is one of the stable, and growing, imports in the country.

From 2000 to 2014, kiwifruit imports have increased from 2.3 per cent to 4.1 per cent of Japan’s total fruit imports, with 65,000 tonnes imported in 2014, according to statistics from Japan’s Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries.

The forecast expenditure on kiwifruit for 2015 is expected to reach ¥1,500 per household in Japan, making it the highest in ten years.

The full interview with Zespri Japan will be available in the upcoming February edition of Asiafruit Magazine

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