Careful 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 while they are growing. And the soil should be fertile, slightly acidic and moist. Zespri selects the location of its orchards carefully, so that the fruit can grow well without too much artificial support.
Meticulous orchard management
Zespri kiwifruit farmers give their fruit the space it needs. The kiwifruit plants are planted in rows and tied up along pergolas. Vines form a canopy over the pergola and the fruit hangs down. 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 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 with the use of compost. The kiwifruit farmers also regularly monitor their soil to check whether its composition is balanced. By taking all these measures, we can cultivate some 80% of the kiwifruit without the use of any pesticides.
Wood waste is turned into compost
Zespri growers re-use the wood waste from the bushes in the form of compost for the plants. If necessary, other residual waste is also used in an environmentally friendly manner.
Economical use of water
Because orchards are selected carefully, hardly any artificial irrigation is needed. If the plants do nonetheless need some extra moisture, growers never water the entire field. Only the roots are watered.
Weed control methods
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 vermin, weeds, diseases and fungi – to what is strictly necessary. Our three-step plan means that: in principle chemical herbicides and pesticides are not allowed; if there are problems, natural herbicides and pesticides may be used; If these do not work, approved chemical agents are used, but only at the place where the problem has arisen. To check observance of the principle, Zespri employees regularly take samples from the kiwifruit plants. Thanks to the excellent orchard management, 80% of the Zespri kiwifruit is grown without pesticides.
The Ministry of Agriculture takes samples in the Zespri orchards and warehouses to check that our kiwifruit does not contain any remnants of herbicides or pesticides.
The ideal ripening
Zespri growers see to it that every kiwifruit is perfectly ripened before it is harvested, guaranteeing its optimal shelf life and taste. 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 divides up the orchard into various small segments. For every segment they make 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, Zespri green and SunGold kiwifruit is stored in environmentally friendly cold stores. The strict refrigeration temperature (32°F for Green, 34°F for SunGold) ensures that the fruit “sleeps” and is ready for sale, without the addition of any chemical agents. Because Zespri 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.
Zespri packaging is 100% recyclable or re-usable. We use water-based printing ink. Zespri also makes great efforts to make the packaging even more sustainable.
Transport 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 optimize the route, so as to limit consumption. Zespri kiwifruit only travels in 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.
Every kiwifruit is traceable
Zespri 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, like a GPS. 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.