19 Aug 2010

Zespri changes payment and shareholding structure

1:34 pm on 19 August 2010

Kiwifruit marketer Zespri is making two significant changes to its payments and shareholding structure.

It has agreed to speed up and simplify its payments to growers, and to a structural change to its shareholding.

Growers had called on the company to speed up the payments and as a result, half of the November's grower payment will be brought forward to September.

Zespri chief executive, Lain Jager, says there will also be a five-one share split from next month, which he says should better align growers shares with production.

The main growers body, Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated, says the split share change isn't quite what growers were after.

But the group's president, Peter Ombler, says it is easier to understand as it pretty much aligns one share with one tray of kiwifruit.

Mr Ombler says kiwifruit growers are unified in their support for the industry's single point of entry structure.

Independent growers' group approves of change

The chairman of the Independent Kiwifruit Growers Association is pleased that Zespri passed a resolution to speed up and simplify its payments to growers, which he says is what his group had called for.

The organisation, formed earlier this year as an independent voice for growers, came under attack at Zespri's annual general meeting in Tauranga on Wednesday.

Association chairman Marcus Wilkins says the group was accused of not representing most growers and being an agent for fresh produce company Turners & Growers which is taking legal action against Zespri.

He says that, in contrast to Turners & Growers, the association supports a single point of entry, and would describe itself as "a bit of sandpaper that sharpens up some of the edges of Zespri."

Sales rise

Zespri says at the end of July global sales were up more than 3% and revenue was up 8% on last year.

It says the last gold kiwifruit were shipped to Japan early this month, with the final green varieties to be shipped to Europe and Asia by the end of November.