Zespri poised for strong season in China as KiwiBrothers™ make their debut

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Zespri’s 2024 sales season in China is underway, with the award-winning KiwiBrothers™ featuring in local marketing activities for the first time and supporting a much larger crop.

The KiwiBrother mascots kicked off the season at Nangang Port, welcoming the arrival of the first of the New Zealand kiwifruit crop aboard the Kowhai charter vessel which sailed into Shanghai at the end of March. 

An official season launch event has also taken place in Shanghai for Zespri’s key customers and industry partners, attended by Zespri CEO Dan Mathieson, Board Chairman Nathan Flowerday and former Chairman Bruce Cameron, and New Zealand officials including New Zealand’s Consul-General to Shanghai, Ardi Barnard and the MPI Deputy-Director General China Relations Charlotte Austin from the New Zealand Embassy in Beijing.

Zespri CEO Dan Mathieson says it’s exciting to get the season off to a strong start with a 40 percent increase in fruit for Greater China this season. 

“China is one of our largest markets and it’s been great to be able to connect in person in recent days with so many of our local customers and distribution partners as we look forward to what we hope is a really successful season.

“With a much bigger crop this season, we’ve put in a huge amount of planning to ensure we deliver the season well, including getting our customers consistently good quality fruit as quickly as possible to meet demand and the early season sales opportunities and to maximise the value we return to our growers. 

“This season, more than one third of Zespri SunGold will head to Greater China – up from 25 percent last year and we’ve already had four Zespri charters unload three million trays in Shanghai.

Mr Mathieson says the industry was again focused on delivering consistently good quality fruit to customers. 

“Fruit quality on the first of our China charter vessels has been really good, and the feedback we’ve had from our local customers indicates this is some of the best early arrival fruit they have seen in the past four years. 

“With more fruit available, our marketing activities have been designed to support a strong start to the season and our KiwiBrothersTM will play a key role in that, particularly with a much larger New Zealand kiwifruit crop and the significant increase in fruit for China. 

“We know our KiwiBrothersTM really resonate with our consumers so it’s a big moment for us to launch them in our biggest market, China where we think they’re going to be a huge hit too. 

Mr Mathieson says Zespri is also encouraged by the strong season start that has been made across Asia including in Japan and Korea. 

“RubyRed has got us off to a strong start in a number of markets with the popular berry-like kiwifruit available for the first time this year in South Korea, Malaysia and Hong Kong – and we’re looking forward to building supply in the markets to meet strong demand.”