The problem of chemical residues
Just as the New Zealand kiwifruit industry was regrouping after the global overproduction crisis of the 1980s, a more severe price crash occurred when European kiwifruit began to enter the market around 1991. It was getting harder to sell to key European markets; in particular, Italian officials prosecuted New Zealand exporters for selling kiwifruit with high chemical residues.
Kiwifruit growers had traditionally sprayed pests (specifically leafroller and scale insects) by the calendar. To meet early export requirements, orchards had to be inspected and declared free of pests and diseases. Before 1992, up to eight insecticide applications were sprayed each season, compared with only one in hot areas such as Chile and California.
The KiwiGreen programme
Prosecution prompted the New Zealand industry to set up an integrated pest-management system. By 1997, all kiwifruit was produced according to KiwiGreen or certified organic protocols, where biocontrol methods are favoured, and chemical sprays are used only when there are high numbers of pests. The KiwiGreen programme also considers environmental factors, sustainability, ethical trading practices and hygiene standards.
Acknowledgements to Jayson Benge, Bob Martin and Ross Ferguson