Italian kiwifruit growers visit New Zealand orchards

An influx of Italian Zespri kiwifruit growers this week will finish up their tour of orchards around New Zealand. The 20 visitors are the first in a series of ‘technical tour’ groups that will bring 120 people from Korea, Japan, China, France and Italy to New Zealand orchards this year.

Zespri global production manager Shane Max says all these Zespri-affiliated partners – growers, postharvest operators and supply chain staff – arrive thirsty for local knowledge.

“They want to know how to grow better fruit and more of it and they want to meet the people who are doing it well here in New Zealand,” Mr Max says.

“This kind of face-to-face, practical, on-the-ground technical advice helps our overseas growers produce plenty of top-quality fruit and ensures Zespri’s standards are maintained throughout the supply chain. It also exposes NZ growers to new ideas and different ways of doing things, creating a catalyst for new thinking and innovation.”

He says this kind of knowledge exchange is vital to Zespri’s global success, ensuring year-round supply of its high-quality kiwifruit internationally, allowing northern hemisphere orchardists to complement shortages in the New Zealand supply season.

“It’s essential we keep Zespri fruit in front of overseas consumers for 12 months a year so they stay loyal to our brand.”

The delegates visit the company’s head office and orchard and packhouses as well as kiwifruit-related businesses like compost manufacturers and pollen providers. This includes visits to regions further afield as well, where growing conditions are often more similar than the Bay of Plenty.

The Italians will spend six days in New Zealand and a Korean group will arrive in March. Tours are tailored to meet the specific needs of each group typically focusing on rapid orchard establishment, producing high quality, high taste fruit and optimising postharvest supply chains.

“For instance, the Korean contingent who arrive in March have a strong interest in Bounty rootstock which is being used in South Korea to improve fruit quality and harvest in a growing environment where summer monsoon rainfall can effect vine growth and fruit quality. The recent Italian group have been interested to see and discuss soil and vine management with growers in Gisborne (East Coast of New Zealand) as soil and climatic condition are more similar there to their own environment than the Bay of Plenty, where most New Zealand Zespri Kiwifruit is grown. Those growing in lower chill regions visit Maori-owned orchards which typically grow in sites like those on the outskirts of Tauranga,” says Mr Max.

For more information:
Rachel Lynch
Tel: +64 7 572 7757

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