15 Aug 2016

Major review of Kiwifruit export rules

2:35 pm on 15 August 2016

The government is updating kiwifruit export regulations, which Zespri says will move the industry forward to keep up with its rapid growth.

Zespri Kiwifruit is loaded onto the Atlantic Erica at the Port of Tauranga.

Zespri Kiwifruit is loaded onto the Atlantic Erica at the Port of Tauranga. Photo: Supplied

It's the first major review of the regulations since they were put in place 17 years ago.

The kiwifruit industry is flourishing, and sales are expected to more than double by 2025 to $4.5 billion.

The new regulation changes will allow shareholders to consider setting rules around maximum shareholding and eligibility for dividend payments.

Zespri deputy chair Bruce Cameron said this update would bring the industry up to speed.

"The changes that are going to be put in place following the AGM, now that we've got cabinet's approval, are going to mean that we've got some opportunities to move the kiwifruit industry forward and make it fit for purpose in the times that we're currently in."

Mr Cameron said the current regulations were 17 years old and did not reflect the environment that we're working in.

"One of the major things is around share alignment and back in 2000 when Zespri was incorporated, each grower in the industry received one share per production trade, in the 17 years that the industry has been moving forward into - obviously orchards have been sold, transferred, people have got out and unlike the Fonterra model, you're not obliged to have Zespri shares when you purchase an orchard and when you leave the industry and sell your orchard, you're not required to sell those shares."

He said there needed to be alignment to ensure that the commercial capability of Zespri was relevant to those that are in the industry now.

Another change was the introduction of two independent directors to the Kiwifruit New Zealand board.

No Chinese exports

Meanwhile, Zespri said it was still not exporting kiwifruit to China because it was developing new fruit export checks.

Two containers of Zespri kiwifruit containing a fungus were found as part of a routine inspection in China, and Zespri temporarily halted exports to put new pre-export fruit checks in place.

Mr Cameron said they were working on the issue.

"Our whole focus and momentum is on complying with criteria that the Chinese authorities have placed on us, and that they've recognised this rot in some of the pallets. We're just in the process of getting that system sorted out and the Zespri board is just making sure management has all the tools at hand to deal with that, so this is just business on the global market for us."

Zespri was doing a feasibility study on moving the fruit into either Japan or Europe, said Mr Cameron.

The Minister for Primary Industries, Nathan Guy, said shipments that were already on the water were still being accepted by China.

"Exports are continuing to arrive into China, there's more testing obviously at the different ports around China and we're just working very closely with Zespri to ensure that the trade can continue."

Mr Guy said it might mean that new protocols for kiwifruit were put in place, similar to what happened to apples in 2013 with a similar rot, and a protocol with China was developed.

"We might need to do that with China down the track, but right now it's working through internal processes with MPI and Zespri."

The new pre-export fruit checks have to be approved by MPI and Chinese officials before kiwifruit is shipped to China.

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