The brand is licensing a further 1,800 hectares in Italy and other yet-to-be-determined European growing sites, in addition to the 1,800 hectares it currently has license for in Italy and France.
Zespri says the expansion should formulate €100-150 million in revenue for the growers in Europe.
Kiwifruits are becoming more and more popular as a super food, boasting numerous health benefits including high vitamin C levels to support the immune system and high fibre levels to aid digestion, a key driver in their demand according to Limmer.
“Nutrition is a big driver of consumer demand and [consumers] are looking for products that are not only going to taste good but also are going to be good for them. So we put in a lot of research into that so we can provide information to the consumers about the benefits of the kiwifruit,” he said.
“The brand identity and brand presence, backed up with the consistent quality, consistent taste and health messaging and good service has been really critical for us in establishing a really strong and positive reputation.”
“There is no point investing heavily in a brand and spending millions of dollars annually if you can’t back it up with a really compelling proposition around the product you are delivering”.
As the kiwi is a seasonal fruit, the market supply in the southern hemisphere runs from April to December, however Limmer says the European investment is “essential” for the brand to ensure stock for 12 months of the year.
Celebrating 20 years of the Zespri brand this year, Limmer says the secret to its success is fulfilling consumer needs.
“We spend a lot of our time researching what consumers are looking for and testing it on our products, meeting consumer requirements and expectations. We are tailoring our products and sending information back to our growers so then they can deliver as best as they can,” he added.
The kiwifruit contains three times the amount of Vitamin C of oranges, is high in fibre and antioxidants and can also slow the uptake of sugars. The enzyme, actinidin, is unique to the kiwifruit and aids digestion by breaking down proteins.
Limmer said in order to appeal to consumers looking for convenience, the brand is also testing varieties of the fruit with edible or peel-able skins.