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Kiwifruit Post Harvest Operators Support of Zespri

Good morning

Please see the letter below that was sent to selected MPs and Ministers yesterday on behalf of a group of post harvest kiwifruit operators, who represent more than 75% of the total volume of kiwifruit exports.
23 May 2013

Dear MP/Minister

Kiwifruit Post Harvest Operators Join Forces in Support of Zespri Structure

As a group of post harvest operators in the New Zealand kiwifruit industry, we represent approximately 76 percent of the total volume of kiwifruit exports.
Whilst we are quite diverse in our ownership structures, as a group we represent the largest capital investment in the New Zealand kiwifruit industry, with more than $450 million in investments in orchards, packing facilities and related assets.  At the peak of the kiwifruit season, we employ more than 8,500 people in our post harvest facilities and return approximately $100 million through wages and salaries to the communities in which we operate.

We are each competitors for crop volume within New Zealand, however collectively we remain strong supporters of the New Zealand integrated kiwifruit industry structure, with Zespri as our marketer and owner of the world’s premium kiwifruit brand.  

We know the success of our individual organisations rely upon the New Zealand kiwifruit industry being able to achieve the scale and long-term commitment to build a leading global brand like Zespri, which enables our industry to compete in a very competitive international fruit trading environment. Without this structure, the returns we receive from offshore markets would be severely compromised. Recent examples of our post harvest industry working collaboratively is the response to Psa, and the development and release of new varieties.

For this reason, we are deeply concerned that what appears to us is a public campaign, supported by an anonymous minority in the kiwifruit industry, that are using Zespri’s historical customs issue in China as an attempt destabilise our industry structure.

While the China customs matter is concerning to us, we believe Zespri must be left to work this issue through China’s court system.  Once the legal system in China has delivered its final verdict, the New Zealand kiwifruit industry will then be in a better position to understand what led to this situation and what Zespri has learnt from this issue.  Some of us are both Zespri grower-shareholders and/or representatives of Zespri grower-shareholders. We are the ones best positioned to hold Zespri to account to ensure it keeps delivering to the high standards we demand of it.

Until that point is reached, the current public speculation and campaigning against Zespri – and by extension, the industry structure – will do more to damage the Zespri brand, our interests and grower interests than the customs matter itself.

As we all know, China is a hugely valuable market to the New Zealand kiwifruit industry, and therefore our companies’ and communities’ livelihoods.  Our market penetration into China continues to grow, which gives us confidence that the customs issue is not impacting on the Zespri brand or Zespri’s future in China.  We will continue to hold Zespri to account to ensure this remains the case, not only in China but in the other 55 markets it sells into around the world.
We represent the vast majority of the kiwifruit industry, and we want to ensure you are aware of our view on this matter. If you are pressured on this matter, please be assured that Zespri and the kiwifruit industry structure retains our confidence and support.

Kind regards

Tony Hawken 
Chief Executive
EastPack Limited

Bill Thorpe 
Gisborne Kiwifruit Trust

Allan Dawson
Managing Director
Aongetete Coolstores

Paul Jones
DMS Progrowers

James Trevelyan      
Managing Director 

Stuart Weston
Chief Executive 
Apata Ltd

Tom Wilson 
Aerocool Ltd

Rod Fry
Mainland Kiwi

Craig Thompson 
Chief Executive  

Hemi Rolleston     
Chief Executive  
Te Awanui Hukapak    

Sean Carnachan
Western Orchards

Rob Craig  
G6 Kiwi Ltd

Jan Benes 
Managing Director 
Auckland Pack & Cool, and Mount Pack & Cool

Alan Thompson
LD Packers

Doug Brown
Riverlock Orchard Pack and Coolstore

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