(Updated coverage 9/22) Last year was a record year for sales of New Zealand kiwifruit, but so far, 2009 is topping it.

Green kiwifruit sales will likely wind down in October, but gold sales were so brisk that season finished two months ahead of predictions, said Karen Brux, North American marketing representative for Zespri International, Tauranga, New Zealand, the exclusive marketer of New Zealand kiwifruit exported to North America.

Through mid-September, green sales were up 5% over last year at the same time, Brux said.

UPDATED: New Zealand kiwifruit sales beat record prior year

The strong performance came despite a 17% increase in volumes from rival Chile, Brux said. The strong Zespri performance came despite big increases in volumes from rival Chile, Brux said. She cited an aggressive marketing effort as a reason for the success of the New Zealand deal.

During the tours, a vehicle wrapped in Zespri signage made the rounds of those cities’ retailers, foodservice outlets and promotional events.

In other markets, Zespri merchandisers created customized programs for national and regional retailers that included television advertising, quality-control training for produce department staff and in-store demos, Brux said.

Zespri also seized on sponsorship opportunities this summer, she said. The company sponsored a concert series, the annual conference of the American Dietetics Association and BlogHer, a conference of mom bloggers.

Other efforts this year included a first-ever French marketing campaign in Quebec; a direct mail campaign targeting chefs, bartenders, culinary schools and foodservice buyers; and education programs at eight U.S. culinary schools.