With the 2019 Northern Hemisphere kiwifruit harvest well underway, Zespriisexpecting to market around 19m trays – or almost70,000 tonnes– from orchards throughout Italy, Franceand Greece.
“It’s been a tough season for some European growers this year, withacold wet spring negatively affecting pollination and issues including the presence of the Brown Marmorated Stink Bug and Moira disease affecting kiwifruit and other local produce,” said Sheila McCann-Morrison,Zespri’schief international production officer.
“However, despite those challenges, this season’sNorthern Hemispherecrop is still expected tobe around the same asthe record set last year. That’s going tomeanwecan again provide strongreturns to the local industry which is something we’re very proud of.”
Zespri has developed a network of around 750 European growers over the past 20 years, the majority of which are based in Italy. With growingglobaldemand for kiwifruit, McCann-Morrison said European production plays a key role inthe marketer’sglobal supply strategy, which supplies premium fruit for all 12 months of the year.
“It’s a relationship that’s working incredibly well for both Italian growers, post-harvest operators and distributors, as well as for Zespri and the New Zealand industry,” McCann-Morrison said.
“It’s helping deliver greater orchard gate returns, jobs for locals and is also leading to tens-of-millions of Euros being invested in orchards and post-harvest facilities.It’s also helping foster further collaborationincludingtechnical exchange through R&D, grower workshopsand nurseryvisits inNew Zealand andother generalsupport– all of whichare helping boost production.”
Zespri is involved ina number oftrials to help European growers overcomethe threats posed bypests and disease.
“Brown Marmorated Stink Bug is having a huge impact on European crops including kiwifruitand so we’re workingwith localstoaddressthis threat, as well as continuing to invest significantly with our partners onmitigating the impact of the vine-killing disease Psa,” McCann-Morrisonadded.
“Our industry knows first-hand the risks associated with biosecurity and the significant costs associated withan incursion- ifwe can find ways to reducetheimpact then the benefits will be immense.”
McCann-Morrisonsaid improvingmarket accessfor European kiwifruit isalso a significant focus for Zespri, as production ramps-up across the continent.
“Global supply, or Zespri kiwifruit grown outside of New Zealand, is currently around 10 per cent of all the fruit sold internationally by Zespri, but that will increase significantly along with demand,” she said.
“At the moment we have around 3,100ha in the ground in Europe and that’s set to grow to around 5,000ha over the next five years.
“We’recommitted tohelpingcreate access to new marketsfor European exportersas we haverecentlywithMexicoso we’reensuringan even greater number of consumersaround the world can access ourpremium kiwifruit.”