First shipment of Zespri kiwifruit arrives in China alongside launch of Kiwi Brothers mascots in country  

Zespri’s Kiwi Brothers mascots have kicked off the 2024 export season at Nangang Port, welcoming the arrival of the first shipment of New Zealand kiwifruit aboard the Kowhai charter vessel, which sailed into Shanghai at the end of March. 

KiwiBrothers at port

Kiwi Brothers at Nangang Port

An official season launch event has also taken place in Shanghai for Zespri’s key customers and industry partners. The event was attended by Zespri chief executive Dan Mathieson, board chairman Nathan Flowerday and former chairman Bruce Cameron as well as New Zealand officials including New Zealand’s consul-general to Shanghai, Ardi Barnard, and the MPI deputy-director general China relations, Charlotte Austin, from the New Zealand Embassy in Beijing. 

Zespri chief executive Dan Mathieson said it was exciting to get the season off to a strong start, with a 40 per cent increase in fruit for Greater China this season.  

“China is one of our largest markets and it’s been great to be able to connect in person in recent days with so many of our local customers and distribution partners as we look forward to what we hope is a really successful season,” he said.    

“With a much bigger crop this season, we’ve put in a huge amount of planning to ensure we deliver the season well, including getting our customers consistently good quality fruit as quickly as possible to meet demand and early season sales opportunities, and to maximise the value we return to our growers.” 

Mathieson added that more than one third of Zespri SunGold will head to Greater China this season – up from 25 per cent last year, and the company has already unloaded 3m trays in Shanghai from four charter vessels.  

In addition to these increased volumes, Mathieson said the industry is again focused on delivering consistently good-quality fruit to customers. 
“Fruit quality on the first of our China charter vessels has been really good, and the feedback we’ve had from our local customers indicates this is some of the best early arrival fruit they have seen in the past four years.” 

The Kiwi Brothers mascots will play a key role in Zespri’s marketing presence across China for the first time this season.  

“With more fruit available, our marketing activities have been designed to support a strong start to the season and our Kiwi Brothers will play a key role in that, particularly with a much larger New Zealand kiwifruit crop and the significant increase in fruit for China,” Mathieson said. 
“We know our Kiw iBrothers really resonate with our consumers so it’s a big moment for us to launch them in our biggest market, China, where we think they’re going to be a huge hit.” 
Zespri is also encouraged by the strong season start that has been made elsewhere in Asia including in Japan and Korea.  

“RubyRed has got us off to a strong start in a number of markets with the popular berry-like kiwifruit available for the first time this year in Korea, Malaysia and Hong Kong – and we’re looking forward to building supply in the markets to meet strong demand,” Mathieson said.