BioGro Number 1314

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It all started when...

Kiwifruit marketing pioneer Zespri has been involved in exporting organic produce since 1991, when its first shipment of certified organic kiwifruit was sent to Europe. The first organic orchards were certified in the late 1980s, with growers looking to gain a point of difference and meet emerging demand. 

Zespri has since become known as a consumer-led global marketing organisation with a commitment to organics. Owned by its growers, Zespri markets around 4 million trays of organic kiwifruit annually, with organic sales revenue of NZ$60 million. Based in Mount Maunganui, the heart of New Zealand’s kiwifruit industry, the company has 120 growers of organic green and gold kiwifruit around New Zealand. The crop is sold largely in Europe, Asia and North America.

Our organic growers are passionate about growing tasty, premium fruit in the most sustainable way they can, to preserve the land for future generations to use and enjoy. Our organic growers use only natural methods of nutrition and crop protection to guarantee a chemical-free product. Many of our wholesale and retail customers are very passionate about organics and travel across the world from countries such as Japan, the USA, Germany, France and China to meet our organic growers and understand more about the organic production system and principles.

Our biggest challenge is meeting the various requirements of organic markets, which requires balancing the complexity of certification pathways and rules with the practicalities of producing and marketing organic products. BioGro’s programmes have real integrity, give us flexibility and offer practical solutions to various challenges that come up along the way.

Being BioGro certified counts for a lot. It gives us and our growers complete access to international markets.

It’s primarily about BioGro’s integrity, but that’s got to be balanced with the practical and commercial requirements of exporting. We work with them for the strategic level of engagement and dialogue they have with us and our growers. This means we can come up with strategies together, on behalf of our growers and customers. It’s a professional organisation willing to get involved. Having a real focus on organics and the ability to respond to our commercial and pragmatic challenges is really important.

Being audited by BioGro annually is a good opportunity to reflect on where things are at and to review any issues that have come up over the year. Being certified means we have systems in place to ensure there is genuine integrity across our supply chain, as well as processes to manage any issues that arise.