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Zespri Chief says keeping up with technology is their biggest challenge

According to Zespri's chief executive Lain Jager, the biggest challenge facing kiwifruit exporter Zespri is not another plant disease dilemma but keeping up with rapidly changing technology.

Jager has spent 17 years in the Tauranga-based kiwifruit grower co-operative and thinks there will be more technological change in the next 20 years than there has been in the past 20 years, he told Auckland University of Technology business students and alumni on Thursday.

Zespri spend 1.5 per cent of net sales income on innovation, which Jager said was at the high end for the agricultural industry. About 20 per cent of Zespri's innovation budget was poured into new technology, Jager said.

"When you are confronted with disruption the question is, whether you are going to be disrupted or are you going to do the disrupting."

One innovation Zespri looks to implement is a phone app for Chinese consumers which would allow them to scan kiwifruit packaging to verify whether it is Zespri or not.

Zespri's key areas of innovation are robotics and precision horticulture, because New Zealand has high labour costs, Jager said.

"I think that a lot of labour will come out of the supply chain for robotics … The nice thing about robots is the buggers work 24 hours a day and they can work in the dark," he said.

source: stuff.co.nz

Publication date: 3/24/2017


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