New Zealand might appear far away from the action when it comes to business, markets and consumers, but the country’s hugely successful kiwifruit brand Zespri has managed to make itself a central feature of the global fresh produce business in spite of that remoteness.

Now more than ever, it seems, the recently relaunched brand is bringing a message of health to consumers all across the globe.

Speaking exclusively to Fruitnet in the latest episode of its interview series Fruitbox, chief executive Dan Mathieson said the company’s links with an international supply base had given it the chance to get ahead of the game as the world came to terms with the effects of coronavirus.

That “connected ecosystem” of growers elsewhere in the world – in Europe, North America and Asia – had helped the company’s owners, its growers back in New Zealand, to learn fast about how to organise themselves in the face of the pandemic, he explained.

And with its New Zealand kiwifruit exports now getting into full swing, Mathieson said it had been useful to observe the market for a few weeks before that campaign commenced.

“We were also able to use that time [in March and April] to see changes in sales channels and consumer behaviour,” he revealed. “Probably two of the key areas where we saw big changes in our sales and marketing programmes were that consumers were really looking for food that had high Vitamin C. So we had to adapt our marketing to ensure that the high Vitamin C content of kiwifruit was front and centre.”

On the marketing front, having spotted a notable shift towards online food retail, Zespri has also repositioned a large proportion of its advertising spend back towards consumers in the home, he added.

Hosted by Chris White in London, Fruitbox now attracts a big audience across the global fruit and vegetable business that tunes in twice a week to hear exclusive interviews and expert analysis.

Produced by Fruitnet Media International, the show is essential listening for everyone in the fresh produce industry.

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The latest episode of Fruitbox, as well as all previous episoides, can be found on one of the following podcast services: