Millions of Zespri kiwis are grown in New Zealand every year. But farmers in Italy, France, China, Korea and other countries also work with Zespri. For us it’s absolutely vital that Zespri kiwifruit meets the most stringent quality and environmental standards.
For this reason Zespri has worked out a comprehensive quality system for every stage in the production process: cultivation, management, storage, transport, etc. As of 1997 all Zespri growers follow the guidelines step by step. In this way we guarantee delicious, wholesome and high-quality kiwifruit that meets the very highest standards – from the orchard to the store. All the kiwifruit produced and packaged by Zespri meets all the standards in the field of quality and food safety.
Below we list and explain the main principles of the Zespri quality system. Be sure also to read our section on ‘sustainability’ and find out how environmental awareness is an intrinsic factor in everything we do.
01Careful orchard selection
Kiwifruit grows best in a sunny climate, with enough rainfall and not too much wind. Above all, there must be no risk of frost whilst they are growing. And the soil should be fertile, slightly acidic and moist. In short, you don’t find kiwifruit plants everywhere. Zespri selects the location of its orchards carefully, so that the fruit can grow well without too much artificial support.
02Meticulous orchard management
Our kiwifruit farmers give their fruit the space it needs. The kiwifruit plants are planted in rows and tied up along pergolas. Since the vines grow vigorously, they are pruned regularly to ensure they have enough light and air. This is a natural way of avoiding numerous diseases and fungi.
For a healthy plant you need healthy soil. All the care that Zespri Kiwifruit devotes to orchard selection and management is vital for guaranteeing the quality of the soil. For example, Zespri growers keep the grass in the orchard cropped short, so that the orchard is less damp and fungi are not given a chance. No chemical soil enhancers enter the orchard, and soil enrichment only occurs when regular monitoring of soil indicates a need to ensure its composition is balanced.
04Wood waste is turned into compost
Kiwifruit growersre-use the wood wastefrom the vines in the form of compost for the plants. If necessary, other residual waste is also used in an environmentally friendly manner.
05Economical use of water
Because we select our orchards carefully, hardly any artificial irrigation is needed. If the plants do nonetheless need some extra moisture, we never water the entire field. Only the roots are watered.
06Few if any herbicides and pesticides
Zespri has been advising its growers since 1995 to use natural weed control methods. On the basis of a unique monitoring system we try to reduce the use of chemical herbicides and pesticides – to combat pests, weeds, diseases and fungi – to what is strictly necessary.
Our three-step plan means that:
In principle, chemical herbicides and pesticides are not the growers preferred control method.
If there are problems, natural herbicides and pesticides are encouraged.
If these do not work, approved chemical agents are used, but only at the place where the problem has arisen.
Fruit from every Zespri kiwifruit orchard is independently tested for agrichemical residues before harvest to ensure it meets our high standards.
08The ideal ripening
Our farmers see to it that every kiwifruit is perfectly ripened before it is harvested, thereby guaranteeing its optimal shelf life and taste. After all, it is important for all fruits to be picked at the same moment in the ripening process so as to obtain a consistent product with a uniform taste. To ensure this, strict standards are applied for picking.
A grower will always divide up his orchard into various small segments. For every segment he makes regular checks to see whether the kiwifruit is ripe. This means that fruit hanging in the sun will be picked at a different time to fruit in a shady part of the plot.
Once picked, our green and yellow kiwifruit are stored in environmentally friendly cold stores. The strict refrigeration temperature (0°C for Green, 1°C for SunGold and 1.5°C for Gold) ensures that the fruit “sleeps” and is ready for sale, without the addition of any chemical agents. Because Zespri Kiwifruit aims to work in as sustainable a manner as possible, we are constantly looking for ways of improving the energy efficiency in the cold stores.
10Environmentally friendly packaging
Zespri Kiwifruit packaging is 100% recyclable or re-usable. We use water-based printing ink, which is non-toxic. For that matter, Zespri also makes great efforts to make the packaging even more sustainable.
11Transport in refrigerated cargo ships
To reduce its carbon footprint as far as possible, Zespri only transports its fruit in refrigerated cargo ships, which are notably more environmentally friendly than container transport. We also continually try to optimise the route, so as to limit consumption. Moreover we bring the kiwifruit as close as possible to the end destination by ship. Zespri kiwifruit arrives at three European ports, which means we can limit the amount of transport needed over land. The ships themselves are carefully selected, too. Zespri kiwifruit only travels in modern ships with low energy consumption and advanced installations and techniques for the storage of our kiwifruits. This means we can be sure that the excellent quality of our fruit is kept intact.
Average CO2-emissions (g/ton km)
12Every kiwifruit is traceable
Zespri Kiwifruit growers document their cultivation process in detail (what sort of compost is used, whether pesticides or extra watering were needed, etc.). Every box of Zespri kiwifruit has a unique code. On the basis of this code we know the entire history of the fruit: where it was grown, when it was harvested, where it was packed, and when it was shipped.