1 Sep 2022

Kiwifruit growers reject extension of SunGold plantings outside NZ

1:38 pm on 1 September 2022

Kiwifruit growers have voted not to extend plantings of SunGold outside New Zealand.

A stock photo of gold kiwifruit.

Photo: 123rf

The proposal to expand the planted hectares of Zespri SunGold Kiwifruit in overseas countries, excluding Chile and China, by up to 10,000 additional hectares was put forward to support the industry's strategy of marketing Zespri Kiwifruit to consumers all 12 months of the year.

That was because by 2031, the current approved hectares would meet less than 30 percent of the demand in the New Zealand off-season.

The idea needed support from 75 percent of growers, but 67.8 percent of growers and 71.7 percent by fruit-weight count voted in favour of the first proposal to increase the number of hectares.

A second resolution to allow the planting of up to 1000 additional hectares of new varieties was supported by 70.2 percent by producer vote count and 73.6 percent by fruit-weight count.

Zespri CEO Dan Mathieson said the result was disappointing but the industry was structured to empower growers by giving them direct influence over the key strategic decisions outside of Zespri's core business.

"While there was strong support for expansion, it was not at the level required to proceed.

"I'd like to thank all those growers who participated in the process and acknowledge the many who voted - we'll be discussing the result further with growers in the coming weeks."

He said Zespri got a lot of feedback from growers during discussions held on the proposal.

"This included the need to tackle New Zealand fruit quality concerns and the cost of licence.

"One of the key challenges was from growers who do not own shares who did not believe that an increase in offshore plantings delivered enough benefits for non-shareholders, we will continue to work with growers on these issues."

Zespri's offshore partners remain a critical part of the industry, Mathieson said.

"Zespri will continue to focus on maximising production and achieving the best outcome for the New Zealand industry and our partners from the existing Zespri Global Supply production base of 5000 hectares of Zespri SunGold Kiwifruit.

It is estimated that ZGS growers will supply between 21 and 22 million trays of Zespri SunGold Kiwifruit this year and based on existing plantings that will increase to 45.5 million trays by 2029.