Growers Vote ‘No’

After the 75 percent support required for the trial was not met, Zespri’s proposed commercial trial with unauthorised kiwifruit growers in China has been voted down by Zespri producers.

Final results show 70.5 percent of growers supported the one-year orchard monitoring, procurement, sales and marketing trial and 64.1 percent supported using the Zespri brand label, as part of the trial, in order to understand consumer response.

The proposed trial was Zespri’s attempt at controlling the growing number of illegally grown G3 in China, the amount of which is estimated to be more than 5500ha – the total amount of all-legal G3 grown in New Zealand is 8000ha, and the median amount for a license is $550,000 per ha.

Te Puke kiwifruit grower Rob Bayly is relieved at the results.

“The Zespri system is fool-proof, and the reason for this is their ability to monitor and enforce licensing, quality and food security,” noted Bayly

“However, I can’t see how this can be replicated in China, which would result in a compromise of the Zespri brand. I think that the industry has dodged a bullet. I have tabled my concerns with Zespri from a grower’s perspective with some very real scenarios. Hopefully, as part of the consultation process, I will receive answers soon.”

Zespri chief grower industry and sustainability officer Carol Ward noted that Zespri will be continuing to engage with growers on the issue of unauthorised plantings in the coming months to better understand some of the concerns growers raised. She said Zespri had extensive engagement with the industry on the issue, with growers sharing their ideas and feedback.

“They were testing our thinking, which is a healthy part of the process.”

When asked if Zespri had done enough to make growers’ concerns heard, Carol responded: “We’ve been discussing this issue for a long period of time and have appreciated the engagement we’ve had from growers, including those who didn’t support the proposed trial.

“Throughout the many grower roadshows and discussions the industry held in person and online, a range of views on the proposed trial was covered, and this was helpful in understanding some of the concerns and risks growers had, particularly protecting the Zespri brand.”