18 Apr 2011

Poll on kiwifruit monpoloy sent to MPs

12:46 pm on 18 April 2011

Turners & Growers has turned the heat on politicians in the latest move in a continuing campaign to deregulate the kiwifruit export trade.

Chairman Tony Gibbs has written to the Prime Minister and all MPs, outlining the results of a nationwide poll, which he says show strong public support for removing Zespri's monopoly on the export of kiwifruit.

Zespri, which is owned by growers, controls kiwifruit sales to all overseas markets except Australia.

Some 85% of those who responded to a phone survey commissioned by Turners & Growers agreed that the Government should promote free and fair trade for all exports, including kiwifruit.

More than 60% supported a repeal of Zespri's export monopoly.

And more than 80% agreed that in light of an outbreak of the PSA disease affecting Zespri's kiwifruit varieties, growers should be allowed to export other varieties.

The Government has previously said it wouldn't deregulate the kwiifruit industry unless there was strong grower support.

But Mr Gibbs says MPs need to be aware of the public's views, especially in an election year.

Zespri comment

In response, Zespri says the poll results are meaningless and misleading, without providing context on the industry's performance.

It says for example if the surveyed members of the public were told that the industry is achieving 10% growth per year, their responses might be different.

Zespri points out that a survey last year showed more than 90% of growers continued to support the industry structure and its marketing system.

Turners & Growers is also challenging Zespri's regulatory powers and the way it enforces them in an on-going High Court action.