Now aged 62, the corporate raider who led the campaign to dismember the old Apple and Pear Board, merging its Enza marketing arm with T&G, says this is probably his last "crusade".
And Gibbs seriously believes his actions constitute a crusade, not just a commercial strategy.
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His email address is "Aeneid", the title of Virgil's tale about the legendary Trojan who founded Rome, suggesting Gibbs sees his own corporate journey as an epic quest. "I'm coming out of this with clean hands," he growls.
Gibbs' plan of attack is three-pronged: persuade growers that an open border is better than the single-desk method of selling fruit; try to convince the Government that Zespri's legally privileged position is an anachronism and its founding legislation should be repealed; and finally, persuade the High Court that Zespri has been guilty of breaching its own rules and acting unlawfully.
The matter has even come to the attention of the World Trade Organisation. The US delegation has issued a "please explain" note to the New Zealand Government.
Business Herald inquiries disclose Zespri chief executive Lain Jager wrote two letters to Groser in the wake of a September 28 meeting at which he first alerted the Trade Minister to Zespri's concerns.
The first letter, sent on September 28, acknowledged Zespri's information involved an element of hearsay and speculation. It had been sent information on an unsolicited basis.
Among the specific claims that had clearly got up Zespri's nose: an allegation Turners & Growers had advised one grower that it planned to bring the existence of New Zealand's kiwifruit regulations to the attention of the US and Korean Governments in the context of free trade negotiations in order to pressure New Zealand to deregulate the kiwifruit industry; a presentation by Turners & Growers to the US Embassy in Wellington; and media statements by Turners & Growers managing director Jeff Wesley that under WTO rules Zespri would be deregulated by 2013 anyway.
So is it really 'the last boil on the face of free trade that needs to be lanced'?
While T&G has been critical of both Zespri and the single channel system it has not yet explained how deregulation of the kiwifruit industry would be of benefit to its constituent producers or the New Zealand economy. T&G cannot do this because of the weight of evidence and precedent to the contrary, both in New Zealand and elsewhere, such as South Africa. The single channel system protects what is already a vulnerable industry - New Zealand has neither comparative nor competitive advantages in kiwifruit production.
can anybody explain succinctly why zespri have the monopoly?
i see it alluded to as all sorts of things (legislation etc.) but have never actually seen it plainly stated.
Not really much different to a union of growers really except it is supported by a specific law. I see it generally not much different fonterra but with an exclusive contract.
Basically, for the purposes of negotiating contracts and marketing they stick together. Im not sure on the specifics of its creation but NZ developed the kiwifruit (which is actually a chinese gooseberry) genetics(not GM just selective growing) and world wide market many years ago and then forgot to trademark the 'kiwifruit' term. Zespri was a way to have a second go.
Its a patented variant and a trademarked name. There is no benefit to any grower to sell have two channels of sale they would be competing with each other rather than against the standard kiwifruit grown in other parts of the world. The only one to benefit from deregulation would be Turners and Growers.
NR: In principle it is not free trade it is a union/cartel. However, even if the legislation wasnt there theres nothing forcing anyone to sell to Turners & Growers and if T&G managed to get some growers to sell to them it would probably be at a higher price or a lower quality. They would then have free reign to ride the coat tales of all the marketing work Zespri has done.
Just as an aside (without meaning to distract from the argument at hand) - while Zespri was a way to 'have a second go', it still hasn't been so beneficial for the green guys as the supply is still so much greater than demand. Btw, green kiwifruit is a very popular cheep stock food these days
Finally they got it right with the patenting of Gold ... putting it this way, you or I could go out and plant any amount of Green vines. We would have to apply for licensing for the amount of Gold we wanted to plant, and I believe that the availability of Gold rights is very limited and expensive (and at times new licences are not even available).
I've had the privilege of talking to one of the largest Gold producers in NZ via a work project (unrelated to the issue but got to converse around this as well) and the political discussion around the above is fascinating. Of course, they're more than happy for Zespri to be left well alone :>