The single-desk system of marketing for New Zealand kiwifruit came under attack at an annual meeting of fruit marketer Turners & Growers Ltd., the National Business Review reported.

“I believe the time has come to challenge this outdated monopoly,” said Tony Gibbs, chairman of the Auckland, New Zealand-based company in the National Business Review report.

The single-desk system for New Zealand kiwifruit exports has been in place since 1987 and has been controlled by Zespri International since 1999, the story said.

“Offshore retailers are crying out for alternatives and now that Turners & Growers has its own green, gold and red varieties we are in a position to become, once again, a major force in the kiwifruit industry,” Gibbs was quoted in the story.

Currently, only Zespri or exporters who contract with it can sell kiwifruit in offshore markets other than Australia. That provides Zespri a unified export sales desk, which advocates say preserves returns to growers.

Jason Bushong, sales manager for Giumarra of Wenatchee, Wenatchee, Wash., said that Zespri kiwifruit in the U.S. will be marketed from May through the middle of November.

Zespri fruit was trading at a premium compared with its primary import competition, Bushong said.

As of June 4, f.o.b. prices of Zespri kiwifruit, volume fill 33s, were about $16 per carton. That compares with $10-12 per carton for Chilean kiwifruit of similar sizes.