Zespri kiwifruit growers have voted down a plan to tackle illegal SunGold plantings in China.

The attack of PSA led to the growth of a new breed of golden Kiwifruit - Zespri Sungold Zespri licenses the right to plant its popular SunGold kiwifruit. Photo: Creative Commons


The kiwifruit giant owns the rights to the gold fruit and there are 8,000 hectares planted in New Zealand which generate billions of dollars in exports earnings.

This year growers paid a median price of $550,000 [https://www.rnz.co.nz/news/country/443545/zespri-profit-soars-to-290m-despite-incredibly-difficult-conditions for the licence to plant one hectare of G3 – SunGold – vines.

But Zespri estimates there are over 5500 hectares of unauthorised plantings of the fruit in China. In a bid to limit the unauthorised plantings, last year Zespri started considering running trials with the Chinese growers, seeing it as a win-win situation.

Growers were recently asked to vote on the proposal – with a threshold of 75 percent grower support needed for Zespri to continue with a commercial trial.

Final results from the vote show 70.5 percent of growers supported the primary resolution to carry out a one-year orchard monitoring, procurement and sales and marketing trial in China.

A total of 64.1 percent supported the secondary resolution, to use the Zespri brand label as part of the sales trial in order to understand consumer response.

Zespri said while this was a high level of support, the threshold required had not been met. Chief executive Dan Mathieson described the unauthorised plantings in China as a challenging and ongoing issue.

“We proposed the Gold3 trial after extensive due diligence and a range of expert advice suggested it was our best option to learn more about the unauthorised plantings, including the potential impact on our brand and sales channels. It would also have helped us begin to understand whether a commercial solution was achievable.”

Mathieson said China was an important market for Zespri, with 20 percent of New Zealand kiwifruit sold there. It is also the world’s largest kiwifruit producer with a rapidly modernising industry.

“We will continue to explore our options and engage on the issue and find an alternative way forward.”

“As part of this Zespri has a range of initiatives underway in China.

“This includes our R&D partnerships, our efforts to understand the local production and supply chain environment and our engagement with the Chinese kiwifruit industry and Government.

“It remains important we stay close to the issue on the ground.”