A vanguard of 20 Italian Zespri kiwifruit growers have arrived in Tauranga to tap into local knowledge and expertise.
The group are the first of a number of ‘technical tour' groups that will bring 120 people from Korea, Japan, China, France and Italy to the region throughout the year.
Zespri global production manager Shane Max says the Zespri-affiliated partners – growers, postharvest operators and supply chain staff – arrive thirsty for local knowledge.
“They want to know how to grow better fruit and more of it, and they want to meet the people who are doing it well here,” says Shane.
“This kind of face-to-face, practical, on-the-ground technical advice helps our overseas growers produce plenty of top quality fruit and ensures Zespri's standards are maintained throughout the supply chain.”
The knowledge exchange is vital to ensure the year-round supply of kiwifruit internationally, allowing northern hemisphere orchardists to fill gaps in the New Zealand growing season.
“It's essential we keep Zespri fruit in front of overseas consumers for 12 months a year, to keep them loyal to our brand,” adds Shane.
The delegates will visit the company's head office as well as kiwifruit-related businesses including coolstores, nurseries and retailers in the Bay of Plenty and beyond.
The group from Italy will spend six days in New Zealand and a Korean group will arrive in March, with tours carefully tailored to meet specific needs.
“For instance, the Korean contingent who arrive next month will travel to Gisborne because conditions there are very similar to their main growing region.
“And the Italians particularly want to see young nurseries and how we've dealt with Psa.”