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ZESPRI AGM Focused On Lifting Industry Performance

ZESPRI International Limited MEDIA RELEASE

ZESPRI AGM Focused On Lifting Industry Performance

At ZESPRI’s Annual General Meeting, held in Tauranga today, Chairman Craig Greenlees highlighted strong market performance in the year ending 31 March 2008, despite a significant crop increase.

“Total sales volumes and revenues were up in each of our key markets, a significant accomplishment with New Zealand crop volumes increasing by 15 percent over the prior year.”

Despite this achievement, Mr Greenlees said the impacts of foreign exchange, increased price-led competition and rising costs, particularly fuel and labour, severely impacted grower returns. “Although we delivered a highly credible market return, it just didn’t translate into what went into growers’ pockets.”

Mr Greenlees said he remained optimistic about the indicative per-tray returns announced in May, despite further fuel increases since then. “If we are successful in increasing average per-tray returns by at least 65 cents, on another significant increase in volumes, then that truly will be an excellent result.”

Acting Chief Executive Lain Jager used the Annual Meeting as an opportunity to focus on what was needed to improve GREEN Kiwifruit returns, which in the past season were down by 17 percent. “Our analysis showed that the highest earning 25 percent of GREEN growers’ returned on average at least three times more per hectare than the average grower,” said Mr Jager. “Alarmingly, almost 40 percent of GREEN growers had a net orchard return of below zero. Clearly, many of our GREEN growers did not have a sustainable business in 2007.”

The answer, he says, lies in ZESPRI’s historical recipe for prosperity, combined with an urgent focus on core business and innovation. “It requires a relentless commercial and market-focused approach. There is no room for complacency, only excellence and ever-increasing productivity will cut it.”

Resolutions passed
Shareholders appointed Dr Mark Bayly as a ZESPRI director, to replace Graham Drury who is standing down after five years in the role.

Dr Bayly is an experienced director with significant executive experience, having worked as a marketing and management consultant for large international organisations including Vodafone, AIB (Ireland’s largest bank), Ogilvy Group Ireland, Baileys Irish Cream and Pepsi & 7up. Dr Bayly has also worked with Saatchi & Saatchi in Auckland and Dublin and Hesketh Henry Barristers and Solicitors.

Dr Bayly and his family own a 5.5 hectare GREEN orchard, is a member of the industry’s GREEN Development Group and is a director of Pacific View Pack & Cool Limited and Kiwifruit New Zealand.

Dr Bayly has a PhD (Law and Business), a Master of Business Studies (Hons) in Strategic Management and Planning, Master of Commercial Law (Hons), a Bachelor of Science and a Bachelor of Commerce.

“I’ve been active within the New Zealand kiwifruit industry in different capacities and understand the business well,” said Dr Bayly. “Through my appointment as a ZESPRI director I can contribute to the exporting and international marketing of kiwifruit. Part of my role will be to strive to retain the industry’s single point of entry structure. This, combined with building and maintaining high prices in markets and eliminating unnecessary cost and complexity, is critical if we are to improve returns and profitability to growers.”

Shareholders also re-elected Craig Greenlees and David Pilkington, who were both unopposed.

The AGM passed six resolutions including endorsement of the use of capital to fund the export of processed kiwifruit products that are no longer in the form of kiwifruit. This was passed by 99 percent, with approval provided until 2010.

A shareholder resolution, which proposed that the Board review the voting entitlement of shareholders to consider whether it should be changed to each shareholder having one vote, received 30 percent approval, which did not meet the 50 percent required.

-ENDS-


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