Zespri has been crowned Exporter of the Year.

Zespri was awarded the Supreme Award and Exporter of the Year at the AmCham-DHL Express Success and Innovation Awards last night.

Chief operating officer Simon Limmer said the company was growing strongly across North America, with most of this growth coming from the new gold variety Zespri SunGold.

"On behalf of our colleagues and partners in the States, we are thrilled that the hard work that has gone in to relaunch Zespri Kiwifruit across the US has been recognised like this," he said.

"These awards are particularly special to us as they comes just days after we officially opened our office in California to service the Americas region, with around 10 people working from the new site."

Mr Limmer said the New Zealand kiwifruit industry has a goal of more than doubling sales to $4.5 billion by 2025.


"An important part of that growth will come from developing markets like North America, as well as building sales in our more established markets," he said.

"Many consumers in the States have never tried Zespri SunGold and there is huge scope for us to grow sales as we introduce more people to the great taste of this sweet fruit."

AmCham judges looked at Zespri's sales in North America which were set to nearly double from last season in the next two years, to hit more than $100 million in 2018/2019.

SunGold accounted for nearly three-quarters of revenue.

Kiwifruit in the US was an underdeveloped category at just number 21 in the overall fruit bowl compared to ranking in the top 10 for most European and Asian countries.

However, total kiwifruit sales in the US were growing well above general fruit sales, as more people taste it for the first time and choose to buy it again.

Kiwifruit makes up just 1.5 per cent of globally-traded fruit and Zespri has a goal of increasing overall kiwifruit sales around the world.

Mr Limmer also explained retailers' needs were changing and Zespri was working with its distributors to meet those needs.

He said Zespri had long-term relationships with its US distribution partners - the largest was Oppenheimer along with specialist organic distributor Awesum Organic.

The awards firmly recognised the contribution of our partners, he said.

"Appointing Zespri market development managers to work closely with distribution partners and key retailers has really expanded our distribution across the country and sees more value returned to New Zealand growers and our retail partners."