Are there opportunites for a faster rate of innovation in the kiwifruit industry?
The kiwifruit industry in New Zealand is already relatively innovative in comparison with other primary sector industries. The different sectors of the supply chain all demonstrate an innovative side. Examples include, growers exploring tools like trunk girdling for improving fruit quality and plastic coverings for reducing disease impacts. Examples for the post-harvest sector include the implementation of controlled atmosphere storage for extending storage periods as well as research into and a move by some into using plastic rather than wooden picking bins. Zespri also have a strong focus on innovation, with innovation as one of the businesses four strategic pillars, a dedicated innovation team and an annual innovation budget that currently stands at around 1.5% of annual revenue. An example of Zespri’s innovation success includes outputs from the new cultivar development programme. This programme is run in close collaboration with a key research partner. The kiwifruit industry has historically relied on the production of the green kiwifruit variety, ‘Hayward’, until a new, gold fleshed fruit was released as a result of the new cultivar development programme and following years of R&D effort. This variety extended Zespri’s product portfolio and it’s unique, sweet taste was highly desirable to customers, resulting in improved sales and in turn improved returns to growers. The kiwifruit industry is not without its challenges. As kiwifruit production continues to increase in other countries, New Zealand kiwifruit and Zespri must stay ahead of competitors by maintaining strong brand positioning. A strong focus on innovation is recognised as helping businesses to remain competitive. Therefore Zespri and the wider kiwifruit industry need to maintain a focus on innovation and look for ways to improve the rate of innovation and the rate of innovation adoption. The aim of this project was to explore how other successful companies utilise innovation to maintain competitive advantage and brand positioning and to see if there are lessons that can be learnt and adopted by Zespri to enable a faster rate of innovation and innovation adoption.... [Show full abstract]