Zespri has released its first-ever climate change adaptation plan – Adapting to Thrive in a Changing Climate- which outlines how the kiwifruit industry intends to adapt to a changing climate in New Zealand and in its offshore growing locations.
Zespri is the world’s largest marketer of kiwifruit, selling in over 50 countries.
The plan, developed in consultation with growers and the wider kiwifruit industry, establishes a framework for the industry’s long-term approach to adaptation and is a response to Zespri’s climate change risks and opportunities report which was published in 2021.
Zespri chief grower, industry and sustainability officer, Carol Ward said that the plan reflects Zespri’s ongoing commitment towards transitioning to a low-carbon, climate-resilient future.
“We know the climate is changing which brings challenges and opportunities for our industry and it’s important that we look at how we can ensure the kiwifruit industry remains climate-resilient,” said Ward.
Speaking further, he said that “adaptation will be critical to our ability to provide our customers and consumers with great fruit from both our New Zealand and Northern Hemisphere supply in the years ahead and to protect and enhance the value we’re returning to our growers and communities”.
Ward explained that Zespri remains committed to taking action, both to reduce the impact that the kiwifruit industry has on the climate and to prepare for the impacts climate change will inevitably have on growing kiwifruit.
“Our industry is already experiencing and responding to climate change, with growers adjusting their growing practices in order to maintain and increase yields in light of the changing climate,” said Ward.
“This can be seen in the installation by growers of hail netting, the development and maintenance of shelterbelts to help protect orchards from severe wind events and the use of irrigation to prevent vines from experiencing water stress or frost, with post-harvest facilities also adjusting the packing of fruit in light of warmer temperatures,”he further stated.
Ward said that the company also established a climate change strategy and continues to invest in innovation to explore new cultivars and in research to better understand how we can best mitigate the impact of climate change.
According to reports, Zespri’s climate change adaptation plan considers transitional risks such as market and regulatory changes including emissions pricing, environmental labelling, and changing consumer preferences. This is away from identifying the physical climate change risks the kiwifruit industry is likely to experience from orchards through the supply chain and across the packing, transportation and distribution of fruit.
“We know that beyond the physical impact climate change will have, we’ll also see changes at a regulatory level, along with a heightened expectation from our customers and consumers that we are adapting our approach,” Ward said.
He said that the plan includes more than 40 current and future actions Zespri and the wider industry will build on over time to future-proof the growing and breeding of kiwifruit, maintain fruit quality and manage supply, and protect the industry’s financial future.
“This includes supporting growers to adopt climate resilient practices like efficient water use, investing in climate-resilient cultivars, developing a future-focused climate research programme, recognising climate impacts in industry planning, assessing the effects of climate change on productivity and profitability, and lessening our exposure to carbon costs by reducing emissions,” said Ward.
Story was adapted from fruitnet.