Assembling and planting wooden boxes, putting together kit-set bikes and watching a women’s brain being monitored while she ate kiwifruit is not the experience most delegates would expect from a conference, but that’s exactly what those who attended Zespri’s Momentum 2020 event enjoyed.
Held at Mount Maunganui on February 13-14, the conference attracted 680 delegates from throughout New Zealand and around the world.
Day one focused on the New Zealand launch of Zespri’s refreshed brand logo and its sustainability commitments, plus addresses by keynote speakers.
Day two began with activities organised by the company Team Up Events, which included a table laid out with flatpack planter boxes and battery drills that proved irresistible for both male and females keen for a bit of DIY.
Delegates who opted to fill the planters with potting mix and plants created a spectacle that looked more like an intense crime or bio-hazard scene as they donned blue full-length aprons and gloves to tackle the task.
Across the other side of the room, boxes containing bicycles in pieces were unpacked and assembly begun – some teams choosing to wing it while others, mainly those which included at least one women member, following the instructions.
Post-conference, health services provider Te Manu Toroa and Street Kai, which provides food to homeless people, received bikes and planter boxes; Gate Pa Primary received bikes; community enhancement group Good Neighbour received planter boxes and rest home Malyon House Mount Maunganui received plants.
While the activities brought a lighter side to the conference, the first day was all about business and the future direction of Zespri and the New Zealand kiwifruit industry.
Launching the refreshed brand to the conference, Zespri chief growth officer Jiunn Shih said Zespri and the NZ kiwifruit industry has a history of never standing still and constantly striving to do better.
The new brand is not dramatically different from the logo developed, along with the brand name Zespri, in 1997. “We looked at our old brand to see what elements of the logo helped us be recognised.”
These are the red ‘Z’, two shades of green and the fan device. “Twenty years ago, the fan was fantastic but now there are a lot of similar brands out there.” The refreshed Zespri logo, which retains the red ‘Z’ and has a new green fan, was designed to position the company for its next phase of growth.
“We tested the new logo and found both Zespri and non-Zespri consumers had the same level of recognition, but that recognition was 2.5 seconds faster. That increases the probability that consumer will buy us [Zespri kiwifruit] by 29 per cent. Consumers said the new logo felt different, more modern.”
Zespri CEO Dan Mathieson said now is the time for the industry to stand up and address challenges it faced from reducing the use of plastic to looking after waterways, people and the environment. “We must continue to grow, to stand out for the right reasons, to innovate ahead of the competition, and to have brand recognition of what we stand for as much as great quality kiwifruit.”
Carol Ward, Zespri International’s chief innovation and sustainability officer, set out the company’s sustainability plans, saying while the industry has a light environmental footprint and offered a healthy food to the world, more could be done.
“We have a deep respect for the principles of taiao, caring for the environment, land, water, air and people, but consumers are expecting even more sustainable business practices from us.
“We know we have challenges and know there are things we can do better. We have to play our part, to stand up and face the risks and address the challenges, not stand passive waiting for issues to hit us.”
Zespri had a commitment to “helping people, communities and the environment around the world, thrive through the goodness of kiwifruit”. To meet that commitment Zespri’s sustainability team has developed a sustainability framework that includes that all of its packaging would be 100 per cent reusable, recyclable or compostable by 2025.
The other goals are: Zespri will be carbon positive by 2035; Zespri will disclose its climate risks and opportunities by August 2021 and develop an industry-wide climate change adaptation plan by December 2022; by 2025, the industry will more effectively monitor nutrient inputs and losses as well as its impact on water – better protecting and enhancing water quality; Zespri will partner with local communities on healthy lifestyle programmes in all major Zespri markets by 2022; and that Zespri will attract and build a thriving workforce amongst its value chain by 2030, continually improving social practices.
Carol says she has confidence in the industry’s ability to meet the challenges. “I know when we face adversity we know how to work together, how to change systems and respond to the markets. The strength of our industry lies in our collective response to market requirements and our ability to solve challenges together.”
The conference was attended by a number of Zespri’s onshore and offshore-based staff and customers and exhibitors from around the world, including Japan, China, Korea, Canada, Taiwan, France, Italy, the Netherlands and Spain as well as Kiwi growers and agri-professionals.
Among its speakers were USA-based Produce Marketing Association CEO Cathy Burns; international research company Kantar’s brand and marketing chief knowledge officer J. Walker Smith; Australian National University’s earth system scientist and Emeritus Professor Will Steffen; University of Auckland psychology professor Dr Niki Harré; KPMG global head of agribusiness Ian Proudfoot; and leading North American fresh produce distribution and marketing company Oppenheimer’s executive vice-president and chief operating officer Doug Grant.