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Dan Mathieson - CEO Zespri

Re-brand, red kiwifruit and coming season

Zespri launched their re-brand at Fruit Logistica, the first in 23 years. They say consumer research has shown that the new logo is recognised 2.5 seconds faster than the previous one and it will increase the likelihood to purchase by 29%.

CEO Dan Mathieson said that the recognition factor is a lot in the world of purchasing and that the refreshed brand is clearly resonating more than the old one. “I think this brand is more dynamic to look at, it has that very strong red Z coming through but still with our historical green fan in there with the cross section of the kiwifruit. We will start the new branding immediately and it will be a phased roll out for the rest of the year.

“It is a big investment but we have spent over 1.5 billion dollars on the Zespri brand since 1997 which is a lot especially in the fresh produce world. We’re confident the re-brand gives Zespri maximum appeal in all markets with our consumers and customers, and we will be looking at another big investment this year to embed this refreshed brand in the marketplace.”

It can be difficult to make a brand work in the various markets around the world and with sales in more than 50 countries, this was a key consideration. According to Mathieson they have done the consumer testing in the different markets and found the attraction was very strong across all regions. However Zespri will add Chinese characters for the China market as the English word “Zespri” is not as readily understood by most consumers so they have positioned the Chinese translation of Zespri under the English.

“There are some subtle differences across territories but we have tested this brand across North America, Asia and Europe and it has been very well received and the appeal is very strong.”

As for the timing of the re-branding Mathieson said this represents the next phase of growth for the industry. “It’s more than just the identity of the logo, it’s the story which we want to tell through the brand to our consumers and to our customers.

“Our purpose is to help people thrive through the goodness of kiwifruit which is really important to us as an organisation, we have very clear values around guardianship and being result driven - being better tomorrow than we are today. We also want to build very strong personal connections with all of our stakeholders across our supply chain from grower through to consumer. This was a good time to look at the brand as we are about to embark on the next stage of growth and to see if it was still fit for purpose.”

Red kiwifruit
Zespri announced their red kiwifruit variety was ready for commercialisation on 4th December last year, and although there are constraints around how much budwood is available, they will release 150 ha to begin with and increase that as more budwood becomes available.

“As we test this variety more and more through the supply chain, we will be able to increase the number of hectares. If the results stay positive, we will take that through to 15m trays, 1500 ha over the coming 5 years or so.

“From a commercial perspective it will be grown in New Zealand, but we are also doing trials in Italy which we have started already. We know that this fruit will have a shorter shelflife but we have incredibly strong demand from our European consumer base so we want to have a red available as soon as we can. We need to be able to move into commercial production as soon as we can in Italy,” says Mathieson.

The red is a licenced Zespri variety and licences will be issued to growers in a process similar to the SunGold variety. While the gold and green varieties are available for more than six months of the year, it will be a season start variety in that it will only be available for 2- 2 ½ months of the year.

“The red is sweeter than the gold variety and has a berry-tinged flavour and should really appeal to all markets. We did trials in Singapore over two years and we have had outstanding feedback from consumers, in fact it almost broke the internet in terms of the feedback on our Facebook page with consumers asking where they could get more of the red kiwifruit.

“I think this is going to really appeal especially to the younger consumers. I took a tray to my daughter’s school and even the kids who said they didn’t like fruit were asking for more!”

There are other red kiwifruit out there which have been in market for a while, but the volumes are still very small as there has not been any scale production of red outside of China. “If we can see other good quality reds coming through it will actually help the category develop. The kiwifruit category is a very small proportion of the fruit sector, only 0.5% of fruit consumed are kiwifruit and we are hopeful that we will have other good quality brands to build the category. One of the problems for the kiwifruit sector is that there are a lot of brands of varying quality.”

It will be a few years before we see significant volumes of Zespri’s red kiwifruit on European shelves, the focus will initially be on Asia.

“Looking at results of trials on shelf life, the red has around 8 weeks and with a 5-week transit time to Europe it limits the possibilities, so we are looking to the results of the trials in Italy. There has been a demand for a good quality red for a long time in Europe. We are also focused on a red which will store for longer out of New Zealand then we will be able to have the counter season supply.”

The season ahead
This year’s New Zealand kiwifruit crop is looking good, Zespri is expecting gold to increase from 73m trays to about 85m this season, with good growth in the green of around 3m trays. Growing conditions have been good so far, but Mathieson said they could do with a little more rain.

“Italy has been experiencing unseasonable weather recently, but we are hoping that we can get some steady weather conditions during the growing season, we have about 3000 ha of fruit in Europe and we are growing that out to 5000 ha. We see huge demand in Europe but we have been hit by some weather events in recent years which means that volumes have not grown as quickly as we would have hoped.”

For more information:
Rachel Lynch
Zespri International Limited
Tel:+64 27 509 1805  

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