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May 12, 2017

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Zespri eyes fruits of success in 2nd trial

NEW Zealand kiwifruit marketer Zespri has launched its second season of growing trials in Shaanxi Province, in hopes it will one day supply the market with fruit grown in China.

Though domestic growers already supply the local market, Zespri imports its kiwifruit from New Zealand, Italy and France. It began its first stage of growing trials last year with Chinese growers, while this year’s trials will involve Zespri growers working with Chinese partners to improve their understanding of the conditions, said Lewis Pan, Zespri’s manager for China.

“China has the biggest kiwifruit production globally, far more than New Zealand, so we should be able to grow kiwifruit here,” Pan said.

Loren Zhao, co-founder of fresh produce importer and online retailer FruitDay, said Zespri kiwifruit takes up 15 percent of all sales.

Pan said that while Zespri has competition from domestic growers of the green variety, its more expensive SunGold fruit — which comprises about half of its sales by volume — hasn’t been successfully replicated by Chinese growers.

The firm may look at selling some of its Chinese-grown fruit from this season on the wholesale market, but not under the Zespri brand, Pan said. “Eventually we want to have Chinese-grown fruit labeled Zespri,” he said.


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