Zespri targets North America as next kiwifruit market
North America is the next frontier for Zespri as it sets its sights on lifting sales in a market where kiwifruit has a low profile.
Returns there are set to nearly double from last season in the next two years to hit more than $100 million in 2018-19, with new variety SunGold accounting for nearly three-quarters of revenue.
Global sales now amount to $1.9 billion, with China and Japan the single largest export markets.
Zespri chief operating officer Simon Limmer said North America would play an increasing role in Zespri's goal to lift global returns to $4.5b by 2025.
In order to boost sales in North America, Zespri has just opened up an office in California. Whereas in many European and Asian countries kiwifruit ranks within the top 10 most popular fruits, in the United States it is only number 21.
Limmer said the total amount of kiwifruit sold in the US was growing well above general fruit sales, as more people tasted it for the first time.
"It's partly a familiarity issue as Americans don't know the fruit that well, and also some of the fruit sold there has been marginal quality.
"We will target health conscious consumers and are working with retailers who won't be driven by price."
The greatest competition to Zespri was from Chilean growers, as well as some local ones, but they were relatively small.
If the North American market took off, Zespri might consider its own plantings or working with established growers, in the same way as it did in Italy, France, Spain, Korea and Japan. The best potential was northern California or Oregon.
In recognition of the work it had done in North America, Zespri won the supreme award as well as exporter of the year at the AmCham-DHL Awards this week.