Europe and North America director Steven Martina confirms plan for bigger marketing campaign this year as the company targets sale of around 70m trays in Europe

Zespri Zeebrugge April 2024 Crown Garnet Cool Carriers

SunGold kiwifruit is unloaded from the Cool Carriers vessel Crown Garnet at the Port of Zeebrugge

Kiwifruit company Zespri says it is ready for an earlier start to its New Zealand campaign in Europe, and believes the trade will be boosted by the removal of tariff duties under a new NZ-EU free trade agreement.

The company took delivery of its first shipment of new-season SunGold kiwifruit from New Zealand last night at the Port of Zeebrugge in Belgium, and will start loading for its customers in the coming days.

According to Steven Martina, director for Europe and North America, the plan is to sell around 70m trays of NZ kiwifruit in Europe this year, split roughly equally betwee Green and SunGold.

“We will have an earlier start than in the last couple of years,” he told Eurofruit. “This year, we are back to normal levels. So for us there is a focus on SunGold and Green. We will have more SunGold available than in previous years, but Green is back to normal levels. And we still see strong demand for Green, especially in Europe.”

Last year, the total volume sold in Europe out of New Zealand was much lower, at around 45m trays. “We have been really short of course last season,” Martina notes. “So [this year] we will fill the traditional pipelines to normal levels in our core markets – Spain, Italy, France, Germany and the Benelux.”

The early start and higher expected volume also mean a more dynamic and widespread marketing campaign.

Steven Martina Zespri

Steven Martina, Zespri

“We will start earlier with our marketing campaigns to raise the brand awareness and make sure everybody knows that we are there again in the market,” Martina comments. “Compared with last season, we will run much larger and deeper campaigns.”

The effect of the FTA is not entirely clear, but certainly beneficial, he adds. “The free trade agreement means we don’t pay any duties any more. But it is difficult to say exactly what the financial impact will be. The tariff was close to 9 per cent. But that doesn’t mean it will now be 9 per cent cheaper, because it’s calculated on the value that the EU says is the basis for that duty calculation.

“But what it does basically mean is that we don’t have to pay the duty any more. We will be able to offer more competitive prices that enables to make the healthy choice easier. In the end, consumers and growers should profit from that.”