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Interviews

Daniel Mathieson: “The first NZ kiwifruit will arrive in Europe in mid-April”
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11.03.2016 11:39

Mr. Daniel Mathieson, Sales Manager of Zespri, speaks to FROUTONEA Magazine and he gives a short report about kiwifruit’s last season and he also shares with us his estimations for the upcoming year and the future plans of Zespri.

Mr. Mathieson, could you make a brief comment regarding last season of kiwis in New Zealand?
Zespri sold a record NZ Green crop last season of 77 million trays and gold volumes doubled to over 30 million trays. So in total, our 2015 NZ season was around 114 million trays/410,000 tonnes compared to our NZ 2014/15 season of 95 million trays/340,000 tonnes sold.

Sales from our Zespri Global Supply orchards in the Northern Hemisphere for 2015 will be around 3.5 million trays of gold (SunGold and Gold) and nearly 10 million trays of Green. This compares to 2014 ZGS season volume of 10.7 million trays of Green and 2.5 million trays of gold.  

It was pleasing to see strong demand for Zespri Green across our markets last season. Zespri SunGold enjoyed a great market reaction from customers and consumers in 2015, as more people around the world enjoyed the great taste and health benefits of this great product. 2015 also saw record sales in China (18 million trays) and Japan (21 million trays).

How was the weather like during last season and how did this affect the kiwi crops?

The 2015/16 growing season has been fairly standard, as much as that’s possible. The El Nino drought we were fearing didn’t turn up and it’s been hot with plenty of rain.

When does the new season start?
The first ships leave Tauranga in New Zealand around the end of March, with product arriving in the markets from mid-April onwards. New Zealand-grown kiwifruit on track to be delivered on 61 charter vessels and around 10,00 commercial containers to 65 countries this season.

What are your estimations about this year’s kiwi production of New Zealand concerning quality and quantity?
The fruit is a good size and vines are looking great; at this stage it’s too early to tell about dry matter and volumes. While it is too soon to accurately forecast our 2016 volume, we are looking at similar volumes of Green and another strong increase in NZ and non-NZ gold volumes.

Will PSA be trouble for kiwis in New Zealand this season?
NZ growers have learnt to manage their orchards to grow profitably with Psa. Psa management is now a standard part of orchard management and, in general, has very limited effect on the industry.

Talk to us about Zespri’s plans. Are there any plans for expansion or reaching out to new markets?
Zespri is developing new markets in rapidly-developing economies, including China, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, India and Brazil, targeting the fast-growing numbers of middle-income earners who want tasty, safe, fresh, healthy produce.

We are continuing to grow sales in our long-standing markets of Japan, Europe, Korea and Taiwan.

Zespri’s in-market expansion can be seen across world and includes the establishment of a global sales and marketing hub in Singapore as well as new offices and appointments in Europe, Japan, China, Brazil, Indonesia, India, Malaysia, the Middle East and the USA.

To put this in context, Zespri has a total of about 335 staff, with 185 of those based in NZ and the remainder offshore. Of the offshore staff, around 65 are based in Europe, 70 in Asia and the remainder in the Middle East and the Americas.

We are really excited to have opened our first-ever in-market hub in Singapore last year. This global hub brings together our global sales and marketing leadership team who are charged with providing stronger strategic and functional development and sustainably growing our sales and marketing offices around the world. This office also supports our work in the Southeast Asian region which is growing strongly, with sales volumes set to almost double over the next five years. The hub also offers corporate support services to nearby Asian markets including Japan and China - our largest two country markets.

China is one of Zespri’s fastest growing markets: sales increased by around 40 percent this season and China is set to be our largest country market in the next few years. We are investing strongly to support the market-side of our business through market development appointments.

Our central office in China is in Shanghai and we have opened a regional office in Beijing, with plans to develop regional representation in Guangzhou, Xian and Chongqing over the next six months. These regional offices will provide better support for our distribution partners and retail customers in the regions and support our expansion out from the Eastern Seaboard into the other growing provinces in China.

Are there any new varieties of kiwis that Zespri is about to launch? Please elaborate…
Over $30 million is invested each year by Zespri, Plant & Food Research and the NZ government in developing new cultivars, which is critical for our ongoing success. Any new cultivar will have to bring real benefit to consumers, growers and our total portfolio before it is considered for commercialisation.

We have a red and a green variety in precommercial trials and, if they prove to have the attributes we require from a Zespri cultivar right across the supply chain, any commercialisation decision would be years away as.

For more information: www.zespri.com

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