Reaping the fruits of successful cooperation

By WANG HONGYI | China Daily | Updated: 2021-04-21 

During a recent interview with China Daily, Daniel Mathieson, global CEO of Zespri, one of the world’s leading kiwi fruit brands based in New Zealand, shared his views on new business opportunities in China.

How does Zespri view the business opportunities in China?

China is an incredibly important market for Zespri and is now one of our largest. We see continued business opportunities for Zespri in meeting the demand of China’s consumers for healthy, high-quality and tasty fruit, a trend which has been accelerated by the steady growth in Chinese fruit consumption and the rapid development of China’s e-commerce sector, particularly during the pandemic.

Importantly, Zespri has longstanding and mutually beneficial relationships throughout our supply chain with a number of partners in China. As Zespri grows, so do the returns and value we create alongside those partners, which creates real value for both China and New Zealand as well as benefiting our communities.

intellectual property plays an important role in Zespri’s development. How are Zespri and the Chinese government cooperating to enhance IP protection?

Zespri’s commitment to innovation, quality and purpose has been a formula for its success in the Chinese market. Protecting the Zespri brand and the IP underpinning our brand is critically important. Zespri is encouraged by the strong stance taken by the Chinese government on IP protection. Zespri recently became the first New Zealand company to receive Shanghai Key Trademark Protection Status.

Zespri also plans to strengthen its IP protection by technical means, which includes ensuring full traceability of each piece of Zespri kiwi fruit and being able to track it to its growing region of origin.

In recent years we’ve become aware of a significant increase in unauthorized plantings of new varieties in China. The protection of our plant variety rights, Zespri’s IP for new varieties, is critical to Zespri as this underpins consumer confidence in the food safety and quality standards of our brand.

Zespri has undertaken a wide range of discussions on enhancing plant variety rights protection with Chinese government agencies and industry players so as to bring greater value to the Chinese market. We are encouraged by the response.

Could you please share Zespri’s development plans in China with us?

Zespri is focused on making more of our fruit available to more consumers in China. To do that, we must continue to provide high-quality, healthy and tasty fruit and continue to invest in the brand that so many Chinese consumers believe in. In addition to creating value throughout our supply chain, we will continue to invest in Chinese communities development initiatives.

We are also developing new varieties to meet the needs of Chinese consumers for tasty, healthy kiwi fruit. We’re exploring options to undertake trial production in China to provide our Chinese consumers all year round, potentially partnering with Chinese kiwi fruit growers to do so.

A key component of our China development plan will be expanding our geographic footprint. Over the next five years, we will expand from coastal regions to inland regions and increase our presence from 30 cities to 100 cities. To achieve this, we will work alongside our partners in China to grow in a way which creates value throughout our supply chain.

China has announced a new development paradigm-the “dual circulation” paradigm, which makes the domestic market the mainstay with the domestic and international markets complementing each other. How will Zespri seize the new opportunities of this new economic pattern?

Zespri’s position in the China market is highly complementary to China’s own kiwi fruit production. Zespri’s sales in China comprise less than 5 percent of China’s total kiwi fruit production and our fruit is mainly sold during China’s kiwi fruit growing offseason. We are also exploring a partnership with Chinese growers. We are still early in these discussions but we are focused on exploring a partnership that benefits both Chinese and New Zealand growers and means Zespri’s premium-quality kiwi fruit is available to Chinese consumers throughout the year.

Zespri’s Sungold kiwi fruit orchard at Tauranga, New Zealand. CHINA DAILY
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