Grower votes do not pass threshold to increase Zespri kiwifruit production outside of New Zealand

Zespri SunGold in NZ

Zespri growers have voted not to progress a proposed expansion of Zespri kiwifruit plantings in the Northern Hemisphere.

The proposal to expand the planted hectares of Zespri SunGold kiwifruit in overseas countries (excluding Chile and China) by up to an additional 10,000ha was put forward to support the industry’s strategy of marketing Zespri kiwifruit to consumers all 12 months of the year.

A total of 67.8 per cent of growers and 71.7 per cent by fruit weight voted in favour of the first proposal to increase the number of hectares.

A total of 70.2 per cent by producer vote count and 73.6 per cent by fruit weight count supported a second resolution to allow the planting of up to an additional 1,000ha of new varieties.

A threshold of 75 per cent is required on both counts for a producer vote to pass under the Kiwifruit Export Regulations.

“The result is disappointing but our industry is structured to empower growers by giving them direct influence over the key strategic decisions outside of Zespri’s core business. While there was strong support for expansion, it was not at the level required to proceed,” Zespri chief executive Dan Mathieson said.

“I’d like to thank all those growers who participated in the process and acknowledge the many who voted - we’ll be discussing the result further with growers in the coming weeks.

“We did receive a lot of feedback during the discussions on the proposal. This included the need to tackle New Zealand fruit quality concerns and the cost of licence. One of the key challenges was from growers who do not own shares who did not believe that an increase in offshore plantings delivered enough benefits for non-shareholders. We will continue to work with growers on these issues.”

Mathieson acknowledged Zespri’s offshore partners who remain a critical part of our industry.

“Zespri will continue to focus on maximising production and achieving the best outcome for the New Zealand industry and our partners from the existing Zespri Global Supply (ZGS) production base of 5,000ha of Zespri SunGold kiwifruit. It is estimated that ZGS growers will supply between 21m-22m trays of Zespri SunGold Kiwifruit this year and based on existing plantings that will increase to 45.5m trays by 2029,” Mathieson said.

“For new varieties, planting is restricted to the 1,000 hectares approved in the 2019 producer vote while work will continue to procure green kiwifruit from our Northern Hemisphere growing partners.”

Mathieson said Zespri’s in-market teams will consider the best way to utilise the fruit that is produced to support sales of New Zealand fruit.