Horticulture is enjoying a boom in international sales, with exports reaching $3.4 billion in the year to May 2016. With the fast-growing markets of Asia representing almost half that total, Kiwi companies have boosted their presence at the region’s largest fresh produce trade fair, Asia Fruit Logistica 2016, which takes place in Hong Kong this week.
“We are pleased to see a very strong contingent of 25-plus New Zealand exhibitors at Asia Fruit Logistica 2016” says Monique Surges of the New Zealand German Business Association, which is the official representative of the show in New Zealand. “There’s a strong emphasis on innovation this year, with two side conferences on cool logistics and smart horticulture. The world is very interested in companies that can deliver premium fresh produce to consumers, and New Zealand has a great story to tell in this respect.”
Innovation is the focus for many exhibitors. While the pristine image of New Zealand has enduring appeal to Asian consumers, this is increasingly being supplemented by the launch of new fruit varieties, branding and packaging innovations.
Plant & Food Research is sending a strong delegation, including three Directors and a team of senior executives. As well as meeting with partners and customers in the region, they will be showcasing two new apple cultivars that are being commercialised through Prevar Limited. These new cultivars will be available for tasting at the show.
On the back of previous Asia Fruit Logistica introductions of IP varieties like Ambrosia™, Lemonade™ and Genesis™, integrated fruit grower and marketer Yummy Fruit Company NZ is also using Asia Fruit Logistica 2016 to introduce a promising new cultivar, the enticingly named SweeTango™ “
Spokesperson Simon Renall says, “We have planted 150,000 trees of this variety and production is ramping up fast. We completed our first major launch of this variety last year on the New Zealand domestic market and it was a huge hit. We now want to start building a customer base in Asia and would like to get the word out about this great apple.”
Yummy Fruit created a sensation with SweeTango earlier this year when it successfully achieved a Guinness World Record for the loudest ever apple crunch. Using record-breaking crispness to capture consumer interest shows what can be achieved by Kiwi growers who think laterally.
Another fruit leader, Freshco, sees Asia Fruit Logistica 2016 as the ideal platform to promote its unique IP in the form of new apple varieties that deliver exceptional flavour and texture.
Greg Cross, Marketing Manager for Asia says, “Freshco is very pleased be involved with Asia Fruit Logistica 2016, as it is an important event for us to again focus on our key IP Apple varieties Breeze™, Sonya™ and Cheekie™, which have been making excellent inroads to all Asian markets this past season. With very positive consumer feedback, we are confident that demand will continue to increase for these premium varieties in Asia.
“Freshco’s full vertical integration of our apple operation means we have been able to respond and increase supply of these IP apple varieties, as we expect Asian markets will continue showing strong growth over the coming years.”
Fern Ridge Fresh will be offering tastings of its new KORU apple, using the tagline ‘Escape ordinary’ says Sonya White, Global Sales Manager. “We think this apple that is crisp, sweet and naturally delicious has international appeal. We are also excited to launch our re-brand as Fern Ridge Fresh.”
New cultivars and brand names are not the only news at Asia Fruit Logistica 2016. A number of New Zealand horticultural companies have taken the opportunity to showcase their innovations in marketing and technology.
Leaderbrand sees a big opportunity to promote its pouched products, which offer convenience and shelf appeal to Asian consumers. Tomato specialist NZ Hothouse is promoting its pre-packaged products, with a strong emphasis on sustainability. And JP Exports, which has attended the show for many years, is seizing the chance to build on its sales of avocadoes, cherries, strawberries and other fruit.
The company expects demand for cherries to be high from most Asian countries, especially China, Korea and Japan. There’s a growing appetite for New Zealand avocadoes in Thailand and Korea, and also emerging demand for local favourites such as feijoas and tamarillos.
Asia Fruit Logistica 2016 also provides an opportunity for New Zealand’s horticultural tech companies to connect with customers. BBC Technologies is a leading global manufacturer and supplier of advanced sorting, filling and packing equipment.
Chief Executive, Geoff Furniss says “we work closely with customers to continually evolve and adapt our offering. BBC’s reputation for innovation and its consistent and significant investment in research and development are key strengths in Asia.”
Similarly, Compac a leading global post-harvest solutions and services provider to the fresh produce industry will be using the show to meet customers who are looking to improve returns, gain operational efficiencies and ensure a safe food supply though the application of smart technology.
Perry Sansom, VP Marketing and Product says “our priority is that our customers have full visibility across the value chain.”
Across the board there’s strong recognition that supply chain and merchandising arrangements need ongoing attention if the potential of Asia is to be unlocked.
Zespri has been at every Asiafruit Logistica for the past 17 years. Daniel Mathieson, President Global Sales & Marketing says Asia Fruit is a great opportunity to connect with customers and distributors across the region with a strong focus on Asia and greater China in particular.
“Asia Fruit Logistica gives us the opportunity to catch up with all our major customers and distributors from around the world in one place: our senior executives can arrange several months’ worth of meetings in three days.
“Zespri’s sales in China are growing quickly to become one of our top markets and we’re also developing new markets around the world, including Southeast Asia, the Middle East and India”.
“Our focus remains on promoting the Zespri brand and its quality promise. The start of the season is launched with our Zespri SunGold Kiwifruit promotions, promoting the sweetness, great taste and health benefits – in particular the high vitamin C levels – of this delicious new product. Later in the season, our focus switches to Zespri Green Kiwifruit and promotions are in full swing around Asia at the moment. Campaigns have been rolled out across Southeast Asia to show just how sweet Zespri Green Kiwifruit really is, how to ripen it and when to eat it.”
Zespri and T&G have established a proactive collaborative marketing arrangement in Southeast Asia this year to develop market opportunities in Thailand, Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia.
The Kiwi contingent’s emphasis on IP and adding value is very much in tune with the government’s strategy to grow New Zealand’s market share in Asia. This is further supported by the Business Development program that New Zealand Trade & Enterprise (NZTE) is delivering to support participating companies optimize the opportunities in the Asian markets. With Business Development Managers from China, Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore and Vietnam supporting NZ business with introductions and connections, the goal is to optimize commercial outcomes. Alongside a business exchange Breakfast with local expertise in the premium HORECA channel, NZTE focus is all about helping New Zealand businesses gain more business.