Wanaka businessman Bob Robertson claims he is being stymied
over a $250 million plan to grow and export kiwifruit to
Speaking to the Otago Daily Times on Sunday, Mr
Robertson said he and kiwifruit grower and business partner
Simon Dickie wanted to export a golden kiwifruit variety they
call ''Liquid Gold''.
With capital raised overseas, including from China, their
China New Zealand Kiwifruit Investment Company would buy
North Island orchards stricken by the deadly bacteria PSA.
They would then convert the orchards to grow their ''Liquid
Gold'' kiwifruit, produced from a cultivar owned by Mr Dickie
and known as Y356.
Mr Robertson said the cultivar was more ''tolerant'' of PSA
than other kiwifruit varieties.
However, Mr Robertson said they could not come to a suitable
arrangement with Kiwifruit New Zealand and the industry's
monopoly exporter, Zespri.
He believed while his company might have been able to market
kiwifruit overseas through a ''collaborative agreement'' with
Kiwifruit New Zealand, he considered such an agreement would
be too restrictive.
''What we wanted to do was to be able to sell the fruit that
we produced under our cultivar to China.''
Asked if Kiwifruit New Zealand had said no, Mr Robertson
said: ''Well we weren't getting anywhere with the
conversation, let's put it that way.''
Kiwifruit New Zealand chief executive Richard Proctor told
the ODT he had never spoken to Mr Robertson, although
he had spoken to Mr Dickie.
Mr Proctor said Mr Dickie was already exporting fruit from
the Y356 cultivar under a collaborative agreement.
The company was welcome to apply for an agreement to export
to China, Mr Proctor said.
Mr Robertson said the Chinese Government-owned Cofco food
distribution company was willing to buy his kiwifruit at a
10% premium over prices paid to Zespri.
''Cofco provided us with a long-term order to enable us to
grow and supply kiwifruit to them.''
Mr Robertson said he had been exporting cherries to Cofco for
''a couple of years'' and wanted to operate in the kiwifruit
industry in a similar way.
His New Zealand Cherry Corporation controlled all aspects of
the supply chain from its Cromwell orchard to its Asian
It had exported $7 million of cherries in the past season but
could not fill orders for a further $23 million of cherries
because of a lack of supply.
He was now considering growing kiwifruit for the Chinese
market in another kiwifruit-growing country.