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ZESPRI and HortResearch Forge New Alliance

Media Release 23 March 2004

ZESPRI and HortResearch Forge New Alliance

Marketing and science took a step closer to each other with the signing of a new operating agreement between ZESPRI and HortResearch this week.

In the 100th year since kiwifruit was first bought to New Zealand, ZESPRI, the world’s largest kiwifruit marketer, and HortResearch, a crown research institute and world leader in fruit science, have moved to strengthen the platform for New Zealand’s largest horticultural exporter with sales of close to a billion dollars.

Under the terms of the agreement, intellectual property ownership of ZESPRI™ GOLD and all new cultivars developed in future by HortResearch will pass to ZESPRI. HortResearch will also be ZESPRI’s principal provider of research services.

HortResearch Chief Executive Paul McGilvary said, “ZESPRI has committed to increasing its investment in our kiwifruit breeding and research programmes and we have agreed to reinvest at least half our kiwifruit royalties in further kiwifruit research. We have also secured the certainty of income essential for our long-term science planning.”

ZESPRI Chief Executive Tim Goodacre said, “The agreement clearly demonstrates ZESPRI’s commitment to create wealth for New Zealand grower shareholders through long term investment in innovation. We have aligned ourselves with HortResearch as our exclusive breeder because HortResearch has the world’s best germplasm resources and has a proven track record in successful kiwifruit research. This is also about two New Zealand businesses working together to enhance the viability of the New Zealand kiwifruit industry over the long term.

“The global success of the HortResearch cultivar ZESPRI™ GOLD is proof of what can be achieved, with current sales of up to $170m in just seven years since it was first planted.”

Kiwifruit growers are also positive about the new agreement. President of New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc. Grant Eynon said, “The new and stronger relationship gives more security to growers, knowing that the marketing and science effort are working in harmony and with the latest market information.”

The kiwifruit industry continues to grow with ZESPRI forecasting sales for the year to 31 March to be $930m, 11 percent higher than last year. Significantly higher volumes and prices are being achieved in Europe and Japan.

The new agreement is effective from 1 April.

ENDS

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