Kiwifruit marketer’s plan outlines how industry will respond the effects of a changing climate
Zespri has released its first ever climate change adaptation plan – Adapting to Thrive in a Changing Climate – outlining how the kiwifruit industry intends to adapt to a changing climate in New Zealand and in its offshore growing locations.
Developed in consultation with growers and the wider kiwifruit industry, the plan establishes a framework for the industry’s long-term approach to adaptation and is a response to Zespri’s climate change risks and opportunities report which was published in 2021.
Zespri chief grower, industry and sustainability officer Carol Ward said the plan reflects Zespri’s ongoing commitment towards transitioning to a low-carbon, climate-resilient future.
“We know the climate is changing which brings challenges and opportunities for our industry and it’s important that we look at how we can ensure the kiwifruit industry remains climate-resilient,” said Ward.
“Adaptation will be critical to our ability to provide our customers and consumers with great fruit from both our New Zealand and Northern Hemisphere supply in the years ahead, and to protect and enhance the value we’re returning to our growers and communities.
Ward said Zespri is committed to taking action, both to reduce the impact the kiwifruit industry has on the climate and to prepare for the impacts climate change will inevitably have on growing kiwifruit.
“Our industry is already experiencing and responding to climate change, with growers adjusting their growing practices in order to maintain and increase yields in light of the changing climate,” said Ward.
“This can be seen in the installation by growers of hail netting, the development and maintenance of shelterbelts to help protect orchards from severe wind events and the use of irrigation to prevent vines from experiencing water stress or frost, with post-harvest facilities also adjusting the packing of fruit in light of warmer temperatures.
“We’ve also established a climate change strategy and continued to invest in innovation to explore new cultivars and in research to better understand how we can best mitigate the impact of climate change.”
As well as identifying the physical climate change risks the kiwifruit industry is likely to experience from orchards through the supply chain and across the packing, transportation and distribution of fruit, Zespri’s climate change adaptation plan considers transitional risks such as market and regulatory changes including emissions pricing, environmental labelling, and changing consumer preferences.
“We know that beyond the physical impact climate change will have, we’ll also see changes at a regulatory level, along with a heightened expectation from our customers and consumers that we are adapting our approach,” Ward said.
The plan includes more than 40 current and future actions Zespri and the wider industry will build on over time to future-proof the growing and breeding of kiwifruit, maintain fruit quality and manage supply, and protect the industry’s financial future.
“This includes supporting growers to adopt climate resilient practices like efficient water use, investing in climate-resilient cultivars, developing a future-focused climate research programme, recognising climate impacts in industry planning, assessing the effects of climate change on productivity and profitability, and lessening our exposure to carbon costs by reducing emissions,” said Ward.
“There’s a lot of work to undertake, but by co-ordinating our efforts as an industry we’ll be more effective and efficient, putting us in the best position to thrive as the climate continues to change.”
A review of the plan and progress against it will be undertaken in 2025, following the expected update to Zespri’s climate change risks and opportunities report in 2024.