Key to Cen­tral’s fruit ex­port suc­cess


A lot of Chi­nese con­sumers want to hear what food blog­ger, au­thor, mother and New Zealand-trained chef Jing Li has to say - 19 mil­lion in fact.

All eyes were di­rected at the so­cial me­dia star at a launch of the Cen­tral Otago cherry sea­son in Cromwell this month.

The event, hosted by Cen­tral Otago Pre­mium Fruit Ltd, was at­tended by 48 del­e­gates, in­clud­ing in­ter­na­tional fruit in­dus­try rep­re­sen­ta­tives from China and Viet­nam, whole­salers, air­line rep­re­sen­ta­tives and Cen­tral Otago fruit­grow­ers.

Shang­hai-based New Zealand Trade & En­ter­prise Trade Com­mis­sioner Da­mon Pal­ing said from a trade per­spec­tive New Zealand still faced sev­eral ‘‘head­winds’’, but could win in the Chi­nese mar­ket by tap­ping into so­cial me­dia net­works.

‘‘We are small, we are iso­lated, we are a long way from the mar­ket. For ex­am­ple, we do com­pete against Chile. Chile have, ru­mour has it, a US$7 mil­lion bud­get for mar­ket­ing - 95 per cent for use in the China mar­ket.

‘‘We look to play to our Kiwi strengths: to be light, to be ag­ile, to in­no­vate...Tap­ping into so­cial me­dia in a light, ag­ile and in­ex­pen­sive way is one way for New Zealand to win in China.’’

This in­cluded con­nect­ing to con­sumers through blog­gers like Ling Ji.

She was con­sid­ered a ‘‘key opin­ion leader’’ in China and stud­ied in New Zealand as a chef, he said.

She re­turned to China, teach­ing mums how to cook for their chil­dren, and was us­ing New Zealand in­gre­di­ents to pro­mote New Zealand prod­ucts.

’’That is the new, there is also though the old ... the old school of get-up-and-go, hard-graft that res­onates with how we do busi­ness in China. We like to think that is a win­ning for­mula for Cen­tral Otago cher­ries in the mar­ket.’’

Cen­tral Otago mayor, Tim Cado­gan, who wel­comed the guests, said he was proud of the busi­nesses based in Cen­tral Otago who were among the best in the world.

‘‘As well as our tourism op­er­a­tors and wine pro­duc­ers, our fruit pro­duc­ers are among the top-class in­dus­tries we have here in Cen­tral Otago. I am lucky enough to have lived here for over 20 years and every year I en­joy the sea­sons as our fruit comes into crop.

‘‘Just be­fore Christ­mas every year, I treat my­self to a big bag of juicy cher­ries fresh off the tree...cher­ries that gen­er­a­tions have cre­ated.’’

Mod­ern re­frig­er­a­tion tech­niques and air­line con­nec­tions meant the fruit could be also en­joyed in China.

‘‘I be­lieve there is a great fu­ture between Cen­tral Otago and China work­ing to­gether. It is very im­por­tant to me we have a shared his­tory. In 1865, Chi­nese gold­min­ers started to ar­rive in Cen­tral Otago, by 1871 the num­ber of Chi­nese gold­min­ers in Cen­tral Otago reached 4200. Af­ter the gold ran out, some min­ers chose to stay here and made lives in Otago.’’

Cen­tral Otago Pre­mium Fruit Ltd chair Mal­colm Macpher­son said the event was a unique op­por­tu­nity for Cen­tral Otago Pre­mium Fruit Ltd’s dis­tri­bu­tion chain part­ners to cel­e­brate the start of the sea­son to­gether.

Cen­tral Otago Pre­mium Fruit Ltd was a pre­mium global brand that mar­keted and sold Cen­tral Otago cher­ries into Malaysia, Viet­nam, Hong Kong, China and New Zealand, as well as sell­ing apri­cots into the United States.

‘‘There is no bet­ter place in the world to grow cher­ries and no bet­ter cher­ries grown any­where in the world.

‘‘For more than 100 years, this re­gion has hand-grown New Zealand’s pre­mium fruit...It is the cold­est in the win­ter, and hottest in the sum­mer and the dri­est.

‘‘What is so spe­cial about our fruit? Clean air, pure wa­ter, cold win­ter nights and long hot sum­mer days. Most of all we have fruit­grow­ers who know their stuff. They grow sweeter, big­ger, crunchier and the bet­ter travel- ling cher­ries than any­where in the world.

‘‘They do that by treat­ing trees like mem­bers of their fam­ily from the depths of win­ter to height of sum­mer. They work all year round pro­duc­ing bril­liant trees that grow that great fruit.’’


Shang­hai-based New Zealand Trade & En­ter­prise Trade Com­mis­sioner Da­mon Pal­ing, Chi­nese food blog­ger, au­thor, mother and New Zealand-trained chef Jing Li and Food­view’s Ze­fei Zhou.


Cromwell’s 45 South or­chard gen­eral man­ager Tim Jones with this sea­son’s cher­ries.

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