Zespri keeps kiwifruit monopolyAn attempt to end Tauranga, New Zealand-based Zespri International’s near-monopoly of New Zealand kiwifruit exports has been rejected.

Auckland, New Zealand-based grower-shipper Turners & Growers filed an application in November to export new, non-Zespri kiwifruit varieties, said Trish Sherson, a company spokeswoman.

The application was rejected the week of June 13 by Kiwifruit New Zealand, the industry’s regulatory body.

Shippers of non-Zespri kiwifruit varieties are banned from shipping anywhere except Australia. Shippers must go through Zespri to market fruit exported to all other countries.

“This is a deeply flawed, anticompetitive system, which allows unethical monopolistic behaviors that would not be tolerated in any other industry or international market,” Jeff Wesley, managing director of Turners & Growers, said in a news release.

Sherson said Turners & Growers planned to expand its campaign to end Zespri’s monopoly to a more international audience.

In a news release, Zespri’s chief executive, Lain Jager, said the company remains willing to work with Turners & Growers on a multi-year collaborative marketing application for new kiwifruit varieties.

“Should T&G be interested in coming back with a more serious proposal that it can show is in the interests of New Zealand kiwifruit growers, we are confident we will be able to advise the regulator that we support it,” Jager said in the release. “T&G did not show it was in the best interests of New Zealand kiwifruit growers, as the law requires.”

Dawn Gray, senior vice president of marketing and categories for Vancouver, British Columbia-based The Oppenheimer Group, said New Zealand growers should be given every viable opportunity to compete. Oppenheimer is one of a handful of North American distributors of New Zealand kiwifruit.

“Zespri’s collaborative marketing approach has been in place for many years and has proven to be a successful model, largely because of the diligence shown by Kiwifruit New Zealand to approve only those applications that will add strategic value to the New Zealand kiwifruit industry.” Gray said by email. “Turners & Growers has a long history and deep roots in New Zealand agriculture. Our hope is that the two parties can reach an arrangement that is acceptable to both and beneficial to the growers they serve.”

A monopoly on New Zealand apple and pear exports ended after the 2001 season. Before 2002, only Enza Ltd. could export pipfruit.