Zespri and Sir John Key meet with China's Foreign Minister

Zespri, including its Board Advisor and former New Zealand Prime Minister, Sir John Key, has met with China’s Foreign Minister to discuss Zespri’s commitment to China including efforts to find a constructive solution to the issue of the unauthorised Gold3 plantings in China.

Zespri Chairman Bruce Cameron and Sir John met with Foreign Minister Wang Yi in Beijing today, with Mr Cameron also attending the 2023 China International Import Expo (CIIE) in Shanghai while in China.

Zespri CEO Dan Mathieson says the meeting highlights the strength of the relationship between Zespri and China, which is one of Zespri’s largest export markets.

“Zespri is proud to have been operating in China for more than 20 years now. The market is incredibly important to us, making up around 25 percent of our sales volume with approximately NZ$1 billion of fruit sold in China every year.

“Today’s meeting was an opportunity to discuss our commitment to China and our significant investment over the years, with Zespri now operating from offices in five locations in Greater China, with more than 100 staff.

“It was also an opportunity to talk about our options for continuing to invest and grow in the China market through delivering the best quality kiwifruit to Chinese consumers and working alongside our partners and the Chinese kiwifruit industry to grow the category so we can be successful together.

“The meeting also involved discussions around the importance of IP protection. We have been encouraged by the support we’ve received from within China as we’ve sought to address the challenge of unauthorised Gold3 kiwifruit plantings in China. This includes the steps taken to amend its Seed Law to grant stronger protections to investors in plant varieties. The unauthorised plantings remain a significant challenge with around 8000 hectares in the ground in China, putting at risk the significant investment by growers through the potential for oversupply.

“Zespri continues to work alongside New Zealand industry leaders on a constructive way forward and we look forward to continuing these discussions with growers and with China and to delivering long-term, mutual benefits for both our industries. Strong IP protection would be critical to any such partnership which would rely on New Zealand grower support. Zespri has also launched legal action in China as part of our efforts to address the issue,” Mr Mathieson says.

Sir John says the meeting was constructive and reflected the standing of Zespri in China.

“Zespri is one of New Zealand’s leading companies and certainly one of our most prominent in China. The Foreign Minister was very complimentary of Zespri’s track record here and commitment to the China market and of New Zealand’s high quality produce. He was reassuring that New Zealand could have confidence in China. We also respectfully raised the issue of the unauthorised plantings and the Foreign Minister was very understanding of the issue and committed that the matter would be handled according to the law.”