The new kiwi season has begun in New Zealand. The first Zespri SunGold kiwis are available on the European market. And green kiwis were expected in week 20. The kiwis had a good growing season, and volumes are heading for a record season. Zespri isn't only developing new varieties, like the red kiwi. The company is also putting a lot of effort into developing new, sustainable packaging.
Zespri SunGold kiwis arrive in the port of Zeebrugge in Belgium. These are available to European consumers. "This year's harvest is good," says Nele Moorthamers, Zespri's Head of Marketing for Europe & North America. "The growing season was good, as was pollination. There was sufficient rain too. That's ensured that this year's sizes are larger than in the past two years. The kiwis are also, of course, delicious."
"Volume-wise, we're heading for another record season worldwide. The harvest should total 177 million trays. Within Europe, we expect volume growth of almost 20% for Zespri SunGold. This increase reflects the growing demand for SunGold kiwis. We expect a similar Zespri Green volume as last year."
"Europe's demand for kiwis continues to climb. Last year, there was a huge increase in demand. So we received additional fruit from New Zealand to meet that growing demand. As in 2020, demand for vitamin C-rich products remains high. The focus on healthy food has only increased since the COVID-19 pandemic hit. People continue to look for fresh, healthy, tasty products, like our kiwis. We also keep seeing strong potential in our current European market. We plan to expand the kiwi category further. We want to appeal to new consumers," says Nele.
Red kiwis in China for the first time
A few years ago, Zespri cautiously introduced its red kiwi to the market. The volumes were still limited. But Zespri introduced this new product anyway. "We're pleased that, this season, we can also share the Red kiwi with consumers in New Zealand, Japan, and Singapore. Zespri Red will be sold in the Chinese market for the first time too. We expect to deliver similar volumes to last season from our trial orchards."
"That, while continuing to build commercial volumes of this new variety. In Europe, we'll be conducting pre-commercial trials for Zespri Red in the next few years. If these prove successful, European consumers will be able to enjoy this new variety too," Nele continues. Zespri, together with Plant & Food Research, continuously researches new varieties. Currently, this is yielding promising results to continue innovating.
The COVID-19 pandemic touched the whole world last year. It significantly affected international trade and maritime shipping. To avoid surprises, Zespri keeps a close eye on export shipments. "We successfully completed our 2020 shipping program. That was with a mix of container and charter vessels. That gave us additional flexibility."
"But the limited shipping routes remain a challenge this year. So, Zespri will continue using a combination of container and charter vessels in the 2021 season. We'll keep working closely with our port and shipping partners to transport our fruit to global markets safely," Moorthamers says.
"The pandemic not only affected logistics. We had to take measures at our offices and packing stations too. We implemented improved safety protocols and additional hygiene practices. Employees had to keep sufficient distance from each other. We also installed screens in the packing stations to protect people. The outbreak affected Zespri offices around the world. We continue following the local authorities and health, safety, and risk experts' advice."
"We keep creating a good working environment for all our staff. Everyone in the kiwi sector has made a huge effort to meet COVID-19's ongoing challenges. Our suppliers and partners continue to play a big part in our successes throughout the year. We want to recognize their work in delivering our fruit to consumers. That's despite the challenges the pandemic poses," Nele explains.
In recent years, Zespri has been working hard on developing sustainable packaging solutions. "We're doing this out of our own concern for the environment. It's also in response to consumer demand. Last year, we tried out new packaging in various markets. This proved successful so, this season, we'll begin rolling out our new cardboard packaging lines."
"We spent a substantial amount of money at our Zeebrugge harbor packing plant. We converted two machine lines to offer full cardboard packaging. We started that on 19 April. This season, we expect to offer nine million plastic-free pre-packs. We will spread these across several European countries," concludes Nele.
Zespri International (Europe)
Posthofbrug 10 bus 3
+ 32 3 201 08 05