New Zealand Kiwifruit brand Zespri has launched $2 million annual fund to accelerate sustainable innovation.
Zespri said in a statement on Tuesday that the firm is establishing a new innovation funding initiative, known as ZAG.
Powered by its purpose – to help people, communities and the environment around the world thrive through the goodness of kiwifruit, it said ZAG will play an important role in the company’s mission.
According to the statement, the $2 million annual fund will support future innovation initiatives and global strategic partnerships that strengthen Zespri’s ability to deliver on its purpose.
Zespri is also seeking forward-thinking visionaries, disruptors, dreamers, and darers to help it better innovate in sustainable agriculture, technology, automation, packaging, supply chain, logistics and industry education.
“We have a very clear focus on creating sustainable long-term value for our growers and ZAG will enable us to partner with other innovators to explore ways to do this, whilst also helping restore nature and moving us to a place where healthy eating is a well-established habit,” said Jiunn Shih, Chief Marketing, Innovation and Sustainability Officer.
“We want to be the ZAG the food system needs. Our ambitions are greater than our capabilities, and with this in mind, we are inviting others to partner with us to help solve challenges that impact our fruit and the wellbeing of people, communities and the environment,” he added.
According to the statement, ZAG will support projects that are focused on four core priorities for Zespri: (1) initiatives that are good for kiwifruit by driving superior quality and lifting on orchard productivity; (2) initiatives that are good for people by promoting wellbeing through kiwifruit consumption; (3) initiatives that are good for the environment by protecting and enhancing nature; (4) and finally, initiatives that foster a thriving kiwifruit industry, benefitting growers and the local communities they are a part of.
As one of the world’s leading fruit brands, Zespri works with about 4,000 growers around the world to bring healthy and delicious fruit to more than 50 countries and has set of long-term sustainability targets and goals.
“While we’re making steady progress, such as a five percent reduction in our shipping emissions through improved charter vessel utilization, we know it’s new partners and solutions that will really unlock change,” he said.
According to him, the firm is inspired by its growers and supply chain partners who are prototyping actions as part of their carbon-neutral trial.
“And we’re pushing forward a partnership approach on shipping by asking other businesses and governments to come with us, so we can stimulate the demand that’s needed to accelerate the deployment of greener solutions,” he added.
According to the statement, Zespri is developing a science-aligned net-zero roadmap to 2050, which has reduced the environmental impact of its packaging with 88 percent now recyclable, reusable or compostable.
Last year, the firm also released its Climate Change Adaptation Plan – adapting to thrive which outlines how the company is planning on adapting to the impacts of climate change to help growers.
It has also supported 35 healthy lifestyle program in over 12 countries since 2020.
“We’re really excited about the potential ZAG has to increase our efforts in this space,
“We look forward to working with agri- and food-tech innovators as well as other solution providers, to help Zespri and the kiwifruit industry achieve an even brighter future,” said Shih.
Zespri claimed itself the world’s largest kiwifruit marketer with over $2.5 billion in revenue – managing around one-third of the industry’s global volume. The firm sells kiwifruit in over 50 countries.
The firm is 100 percent owned by current and former kiwifruit growers and has a global team of 850 based in Mount Maunganui and throughout Asia, Europe and the Americas.
The firm aims to help people, communities and the environment thrive through the goodness of kiwifruit, and works with 2,800 growers in New Zealand and 1,500 growers offshore to provide consumers with fresh, healthy and great-tasting Zespri Green, Zespri SunGold, Zespri RubyRed and Zespri Organic kiwifruit.