5 Mar 2024

Zespri battles counterfeit packaging in China

2:40 pm on 5 March 2024
Zespri kiwifruit harvest

Zespri is cracking down on illegal counterfeiting activity in China (file photo). Photo: Zespri

Zespri is cracking down on illegal activity in China with companies there using counterfeit Zespri packaging to sell kiwifruit.

Chinese growers have been illegally planting SunGold or G3, which Zespri owns the rights to, since 2016 when a grower took clippings to China and now counterfeit packaging has been found.

Zespri said it had been working with the Shanghai Public Security Bureau to take enforcement action against a small number of people involved in extensive counterfeit operations.

"Information gathered through Zespri's investigations allowed local police to successfully conduct a number of raids against those sellers," a Zespri spokesperson said.

"During these raids, it was also discovered that the counterfeiting operation also affected fellow fruit marketer Dole, and Zespri customer GoodFarmer, which have since joined the enforcement action."

China's Public Prosecutor's Office told Zespri it would prosecute the crimes.

"Zespri is pleased to see the action to protect the interests of New Zealand growers and Zespri's customers, we acknowledge the strong support of local authorities and look forward to continuing to work with them in the future," the spokesperson said.

Fight over illegal plantings continues

When it comes to the illegal Sun Gold plantings in China Zespri has filed further legal action against Smiling Face Limited, its director Haoyu Gao and his wife Xia Xue.

The pair took Sun Gold clippings to China in 2016 and since then the amount of kiwifruit being grown there has been increasing.

In 2020 the High Court ordered Zespri be paid nearly $12 million in damages but liquidator reports for Smiling Face Limited show it only had cash assets of $920.

Now Zespri has filed a petition in a Chinese court to recognise and enforce the judgement of the New Zealand Court of Appeal.

"This is in order to recover remaining damages from the $12 million awarded to Zespri after Haoyu Gao and his associates were found guilty of fraudulently offering to license Zespri varieties to parties in China and facilitated the planting of these varieties on Chinese orchards."

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