China pays top prices for ki­wifruit

Wairarapa News - - FRONT PAGE - GER­ARD HUTCHING

Ze­spri is on track to post record sales to China of $505 mil­lion to the end of the fi­nan­cial year in June and ex­pects turnover to dou­ble in four years’ time.

With prices as high as $3.30 for one ‘‘jumbo’’ sized ki­wifruit – at 150 grams not the size that Ki­wis get to buy in their stores – China is viewed as a high value, pre­mium mar­ket that is grow­ing fast on the back of a rapidly ris­ing mid­dle class.

The 2018-19 sea­son kicked off with the first ship­ment of the fruit branded with the Chi­nese name for Ze­spri of ‘‘Ji­a­pei’’ ar­riv­ing from Tau­ranga ear­lier this month. These were the van­guard of a likely 25 per cent in­crease on last year, to a pro­jected 25 mil­lion plus trays grown in New Zealand alone.

Ze­spri trade de­vel­op­ment ex­ec­u­tive based in Shang­hai Cerie Zhu said seven char­tered ves­sels were due to un­load New Zealand-grown ki­wifruit in Shang­hai this year. The first two had been pro­cessed to con­sumers ea­ger to buy the soughtafter fruit, after a short­fall in Europe fol­low­ing a poor grow­ing sea­son. The fi­nal cargo will ar­rive by the end of next month.

Shang­hai fruit seller Dai Gui Jun said cus­tomers had been ask­ing for a few weeks when the first fruit from New Zealand would ar­rive.

Ze­spri’s main of­fices are in Shang­hai and Bei­jing, with re­gional rep­re­sen­ta­tion in Guangzhou, Xian and Chongqing. These re­gional of­fices pro­vide more sup­port for distri­bu­tion part­ners and retail cus­tomers in the re­gions.

Zhu over­sees the ar­rival of the fruit into the coun­try, li­ais­ing with lo­gis­tics gi­ant Swire, which keeps sup­plies in a state-of-the-art cool­store near the port of Shang­hai.

Gen­eral man­ager for Greater China, Holly Brown, said there were now some world class fa­cil­i­ties in some cities, es­pe­cially those de­scribed as ‘‘tier one’’ such as Shang­hai and Bei­jing, but else­where it was quite frag­mented.

‘‘As you move into tier two, three and four it wouldn’t look like what you see in the tier one cities. That’s why Ze­spri part­ners with some pretty big play­ers which al­lows us great con­fi­dence that our fruit and the cool chain in­tegrity will be pre­served all the way through.’’

Ze­spri was work­ing with distri­bu­tion part­ners to ex­pand pro­grammes in mainly tier two cities – Shenyang, Dalian, Qing­dao, Zhengzhou, Xian, Chengdu, Hangzhou, Wuhan, Chongqing, Chengdu, Nan­jing, Wuxi, Suzhou and Hangzhou. It was tak­ing over pack­ing, qual­ity check­ing and repack­ing in these cities.

Brown said de­mand was well ahead of sup­ply. De­spite the fact China was the world’s largest ki­wifruit grower, Ze­spri’s prod­ucts com­manded high prices.

‘‘We hope not only to make it more ac­ces­si­ble but also more con­sis­tent in its pric­ing. You can see very ag­gres­sive price po­si­tion­ing in e-com­merce where con­sumer loy­alty is dif­fer­ent, and com­pare that with a high end re­tailer tar­get­ing a par- tic­u­lar de­mo­graphic – it can be quite dif­fer­ent. There’s also a sea­sonal fac­tor that comes into play.’’

This year the sea­sonal fac­tor has iron­i­cally as­sisted Ze­spri. Its Eu­ro­pean con­trac­tors had a poor sea­son in 2017, so there is pent up de­mand for ki­wifruit in the north­ern hemi­sphere for New Zealand fruit, where pro­duc­tion held up de­spite vari­able weather.

Brown said after sell­ing in China for more than 15 years, Ze­spri’s brand recog­ni­tion was high. The 58-strong sales team was sup­ported by mar­ket­ing in­vest­ment of more than $30 mil­lion to sup­port its po­si­tion as a lead­ing fruit brand in China.

New Zealand ki­wifruit in China at­tracts prices as high as $.30 each.

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