27 Jan 2021

Zespri plan to partner with Chinese growers off the table, for now

8:54 pm on 27 January 2021

Kiwifruit exporter Zespri's hope to partner with Chinese growers illegally growing gold kiwifruit are on hold.

The attack of PSA led to the growth of a new breed of golden Kiwifruit - Zespri Sungold

The attack of PSA led to the growth of a new breed of golden Kiwifruit - Zespri Sungold Photo: Creative Commons

Last year unauthorised plantings of the high value fruit almost doubled to at least 4000 hectares.

Growers in New Zealand pay hundreds of thousands of dollars a hectare to grow it, so in a bid to control plantings in China, Zespri had hoped to work with Chinese growers and authorities in what it called a "win- win" commercial agreement.

But Kiwifruit New Zealand, which independently regulates Zespri, has thrown out the proposal for now.

Its chief executive, Geoff Morgan, said the board had to consider whether the move would have enhanced core business, and how much risk there was for growers.

"They considered it against that test, and yes it would enhance the performance of core business, because of the information gathering in China, but the board believed it was a more than low risk in three areas. So the board made the decision that it did not meet the 'supports core' test", he said.

Kiwifruit New Zealand set a low bar for risk, Morgan said.

He expected a new draft proposal will be put to the board early next month.

Meanwhile, Zespri said it was certain a commercial trial to find a way to handle illegal fruit was the best way forward.

In an industry release it said it would present a re-worked proposal that better demonstrates risk management measures.

Ultimately, it will be up to growers to decide about a Chinese commercial trial.

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