Turners & Growers is backing off its challenge to the export monopoly of Zespri because of the "severe pressure" the industry is under from the bacterial disease PSA.
The company said it will not go ahead with an appeal against last year’s High Court decision due to be held on Nov.1. The High Court had upheld the regulations giving Zespri its kiwifruit export monopoly. Turners & Growers said the appeal related to the first part of an action against Zespri launched in 2009. It will continue with its appeal on the second part of its action relating to claims under the Commerce Act. A date for that appeal is yet to be set.
In August last year former chairman Tony Gibbs dismissed a call from Zespri not to appeal the High Court decision as wishful thinking, reiterating that Zespri was in an extraordinary position as a private company. The businessman long associated with investment company Guinness Peat Group (GPG), which is now being wound down, was replaced as chairman of Turners & Growers on April 21 by Rob Campbell.
GPG owns 63.5 percent of Turners & Growers and has a sales process underway for the stake which is being run by Goldman Sachs.
However, Gibbs has been continuing to advise Turners & Growers on kiwifruit regulatory issues.
"The Turners & Growers board remains committed to gaining the right to export our own kiwifruit varieties, but believe challenging the legality of the kiwifruit regulations 1999 is not the right course given the threat currently facing the industry," managing director Jeff Wesley said.
PSA would change the industry in a way that no-one could have imagined and it needed to be the focus for everyone at this time, he said.
Turners & Growers has confirmed that none of its orchards or its varieties on any commercial orchards have been impacted by PSA to date. Zespri International was formed in 1997 as a global marketing organisation, providing a single point of entry for the export of New Zealand-grown kiwifruit. Later Zespri Group became a public company in which eligible kiwifruit producers were issued shares.