One hundred tonnes of Bay-grown kiwifruit is being distributed by the industry to food rescue organisations around the country this season, Zespri chief executive Dan Mathieson announced recently.
Despite the challenges posed by Covid-19, the completion of this season’s harvest reflected a huge effort across the industry to pick and pack the 2020 season crop in record time and the industry appreciated the support it had received in order to continue to operate, said Mathieson.
“This season really has demonstrated the sense of collaboration within the kiwifruit industry and the strong support we’ve received,” he said.
“Our supply chain has worked together to safely pick, pack and ship this season’s bumper crop and provide jobs to locals who had lost their roles in the hospitality and tourism sectors as a result of the impact of Covid-19.
Majority of harvest shipped
Mathieson said that, considering the uncertainty presented by the pandemic, the fact all of this season’s crop has already been picked and packed and the majority of the planned 48 charter vessels have already shipped fruit to market put the industry in the best possible position to tackle the challenges now being faced in markets.
With the impact of Covid-19 putting greater strain on many community organisations, Zespri this season increased the support it offers its existing community partners and started working with several new organisations across the country.
“We can see significant growth opportunities ahead and we can do more to create a sustainable future by helping people, communities and the environment thrive through the goodness of kiwifruit,” said Mathieson.
Zespri, already has partnerships with the likes of Surf Life Saving New Zealand, the Ōtanewainuku Kiwi Trust, Good Neighbour, Youth Search and Rescue (YSAR), and the scholarships and education programmes.
“This season, in recognition of the impact of Covid-19, we’re pleased to expand our support to partner with KidsCan, where we’ve provided financial support and donated one tonne of kiwifruit.”
KidsCan chief executive Julie Chapman said the partnership had come at a crucial time.
“We’re now feeding 44,000 children a day, which is up 30 percent on last term, as families struggle to make ends meet.
“We’re sending out thousands of warm raincoats and solid pairs of shoes to keep children warm and dry in what will be the toughest winter yet for many.”
Mathieson said that in addition, Zespri had formed strong relationships with a number of regional organisations.
“In the Bay, we’re proud to now be supporting a number of additional local organisations such as EmpowermentNZ, Love Soup Waikato and BOP and The Search Party Charitable Trust, on top of the support we continue to provide Good Neighbour.”
“Locally, the industry is donating 13 tonnes of quality Green and SunGold Kiwifruit, and 100 tonnes nationally, which is something we can all take great pride in.”
Mathieson said he was also looking forward to the commencement of the Zespri Young and Healthy Virtual Adventure, the organisation’s first nationwide community investment programme.
It encourages healthy lifestyles amongst young children and was being undertaken in partnership with ambassadors for Asics.