(Sept. 2) Keeping New Zealand’s clean and green image intact is paramount for kiwifruit marketer Zespri, and to that end, the company is concerned about the end of a moratorium on the commercial release of genetically modified organisms in New Zealand, according to a report from the U.S. Foreign Agricultural Service.

The FAS report said a record 2002-03 season helped Zespri International Ltd., Auckland, New Zealand, double its net profit to more than $7.9 million and increase sales revenues 8% to $485 million.

However, the FAS report said Zespri was concerned about the expiration in October of the moratorium on the commercial release of GMO’s because of the uncertainty it may have on perceptions in New Zealand kiwifruit export markets.

Zespri's strong performance in 2002-03 was mainly attributed to its exclusive gold kiwifruit variety, which contributed 20% to total sales with only 13% of the volume sold.

For 2002-03, sales of the gold variety increased 70% for Zespri, according to the FAS report and shipments of the gold variety are expected to grow from 8 million trays to 12 million trays in the next two years.