Zespri CEO says their kiwifruit sales in China to double by 2025
Wei Lynn Tang

New Zealand's Zespri, the company that manages a third of global kiwifruit production, expects to double its sales in China in the next few years.

At the second CIIE in Shanghai, Zespri CEO Daniel Mathieson said China has been one of its fastest-growing markets over the last decade.

"Just this year, China has overtaken Japan to be our No. 1 market. Now it represents about over 20 percent of our overall sales. And about 100,000 tons of New Zealand's or non-New Zealand's supply is now exported into China. We see that continuing rapidly," he told CGTN.

Mathieson said presently Chinese consumers only eat about half a piece of kiwifruit and the company believes it can grow that to at least one piece of kiwifruit on average, "which would see our sales double by 2025."

He also said that some of the more developed markets in Japan, Taiwan, Spain and other markets in Europe register a higher consumption of kiwifruit and "so that gives us great excitement about the future for more consumption here in China." 

Zespri CEO Daniel Mathieson (R) said it plans to expand to at least 60 cities in China, from 20 cities presently, in the next five years. /CGTN Photo

Zespri CEO Daniel Mathieson (R) said it plans to expand to at least 60 cities in China, from 20 cities presently, in the next five years. /CGTN Photo

"Over 20 percent of our sales are actually sold online to consumers and, in fact, we're one of the top fruit brands selling online in China and so we're seeing great growth through all of those channels," Mathieson said.  

"China is a very exciting market for us, not just because our sales from New Zealand and now other non-New Zealand supply locations, but because it has a very vibrant kiwifruit industry here. Obviously we work very closely with them to help raise the performance and quality of Chinese kiwifruit." 

Mathieson said the biggest challenge lies in food safety and quality, and ensuring its supply chain from outgrowing all the way through to its consumer.  

"Secondly, it's around IP protection. There is a lot of innovation happening in China and in New Zealand around new and exciting varieties for consumers. That can also generate significant value for growers in New Zealand but also growers here in China in the future," Mathieson said.  

CGTN Photo

CGTN Photo

"But it is really important that we see a strengthening in the IP protection as we have seen in other sectors here in China over the last few years to help make sure that we have a very strong value chain and we can create a sustainable business platform in the future." 

That said, Mathieson said China has seen a remarkable improvement in IP protection.  

"In President Xi's speech here in CIIE, he mentioned he wants to have a perfect IP protection system going forward. That's really encouraging for us in the horticultural sector and the agricultural sector, because probably it's been one of the slower areas to see development over the last few years," added him. 

Mathieson added that he sees the continued development of Chinese consumers accepting a whole lot of international products across food and fresh produce.  

"Because now Chinese consumers are looking for new tastes, new flavors, but most importantly, they are looking for foods that offer them health and nutrition," he noted.  

"We're currently available in about 20 cities in China but over the next five years, we're expanding to at least 60 cities and then continuing to grow from there," the CEO said.