Where Are Kiwis Grown? Exploring the Origins

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Where Are Kiwis Grown

Small, brown, round, and fuzzy the kiwifruit got its name thanks to an uncanny resemblance to the kiwi bird.

As the kiwi bird was endemic to New Zealand, and the majority of kiwifruit was being grown in the country, it seemed a natural fit for a fruit that had once been called the Chinese gooseberry.

Where are Kiwis Grown? Let’s explore the origins of kiwi fruit and where they are grown.

The Chinese gooseberry was an apt name as the kiwifruit was originally found in China. However, left to grow wild with minimal cultivation, it didn’t gain much popularity internationally.

It wasn’t until the kiwifruit was successfully cultivated in New Zealand in the 1950s, and enjoyed by British and American servicemen, that the kiwi gained worldwide attention.

Nowadays, kiwis are grown globally, although the majority of cultivated kiwi comes from China. New Zealand is still a major grower, but kiwifruit farms have now popped up in Europe, North America, and South America.

In this guide, we’ll explore more of where the kiwifruit came from and where you can find it growing today. 

Where Does The Kiwifruit Come From?

The kiwifruit originated in central and eastern China, hence why it’s sometimes known as the Chinese gooseberry. In China, the kiwi is typically referred to as the macaque peach, strawberry peach, or vine pear.

While the kiwifruit was grown in China, it was generally eaten for medicinal purposes. The fruit grew wild and was rarely cultivated. Instead, if someone wanted to eat a kiwi, they would collect it from where it grew naturally. 

But things changed when the kiwi specimen was collected from China in 1847, with seeds sent to plant collectors in England in 1900. However, the English gardeners didn’t have much luck with the kiwi plant! It only produced male specimens.

However, they were having more success on the other side of the world.

Where Was The Kiwifruit First Cultivated?

The kiwi was first cultivated in New Zealand. It was brought from China to New Zealand at the start of the 20th Century. Although the first kiwi seeds were planted in 1906 and fruited in 1910, the commercial planting of kiwi didn’t start until 1937.

During this period, horticulturist Hayward Wright [1] began to develop the green kiwifruit that we most commonly see today. In his honor, the fruit was named the “Hayward”.

During the 1940s and 50s, the popularity of the kiwi, still known as the Chinese gooseberry, grew. It was eaten by British and American servicemen stationed in New Zealand, who took interest home to international markets.

The relatively easy growth and high yield of the kiwi made it an excellent choice for cultivation. By 1952, the kiwifruit was being shipped internationally. 

It was at this stage that a rebrand was in order. The small and fuzzy brown fruit was noted for its resemblance to the kiwi, a furry bird that’s endemic to New Zealand. The name kiwifruit was suggested and it quickly took off (unlike the kiwi bird, which can’t fly).

The new name helped differentiate the fruit from European gooseberries as well as reinforce the link between New Zealand and the fruit!

Where Are Kiwifruit Grown?

Kiwi Fruit growing on a vine.

Nowadays, the kiwifruit is grown in many areas of the world [2]. Cultivated kiwi farms can be found in Europe, in places such as Italy, Greece, and France.

They’re also grown in Chile, North America, and Asia. As well as China, both Japan and South Korea both are home to commercial kiwi farms.

And even though they proved a tricky prospect when first introduced to England, varieties of kiwifruit can now be found growing in Britain!

In 2021, approximately 4 million tonnes of kiwi were grown worldwide for commercial purposes. Popular thanks to its sharp and sweet taste, kiwifruit is enjoyed across the globe.

Although New Zealand led the charge for cultivating the kiwi, China is currently the number one producer. Kiwi in China is primarily grown in Sichuan and the mountain areas upstream from the Yangtze River.

China produces roughly half of the world’s kiwi supply!

New Zealand is still a major producer of kiwi, typically the second largest producer behind China. It might not be the sole source for kiwifruit anymore, but New Zealand still produces a lot!

Production volume of kiwis worldwide in 2021, by leading country(in thousand metric tons)***

Leading producers of kiwi fruit 2021

Italy is another country with plenty of kiwifruit farms. The kiwi market in Italy boomed in the 1980s, leading the country to be one of the top producers. 

Other countries that grow a lot of kiwifruit include Iran, Turkey, and Portugal! It really is an international fruit!

This wide area of cultivation means the kiwi is nearly always growing somewhere! The growing season in New Zealand, Italy, and Chile — three major producers of the fruit — have very little overlap.

There are many cultivars of kiwi, which is one of the reasons it thrives in so many places. Hardier kiwi can grow in countries with a more temperamental climate, while other cultivars can fruit in easier climates!

The two most enjoyed local kiwi fruits are the Golden and Green Kiwi varieties.

Popular brands are the Zespri Organic Golden Kiwis and the Zespri Organic Green Kiwis, locally available online and from your favorite local produce store.

Frequently Asked Questions

As a grower of kiwi fruit, I have put together some FAQ’s that people have asked me in the past. If you have any more questions, please feel free to send me a comment below or on our contact page.

Q: How are kiwis grown?

A: Kiwis usually grow in large vineyards called orchards, where they are cultivated on trellises. These trellises support the plants, allowing them to climb and spread out as they grow. Regular pruning helps maintain the vines and ensure optimal fruit production.

Q: Where Did The Kiwifruit Originate?

A: The kiwifruit originated in central and eastern China, where it was typically referred to as the Macaque Peach or the Strawberry Peach. Before the 20th century, kiwifruit was primarily left to grow wild and was rarely cultivated.

Q: What Country Grows The Most Kiwifruit?

A: The top kiwifruit-producing country in the world is China. However, kiwi is grown globally, and Italy, New Zealand, and Chile all produce high levels of kiwi. Kiwifruit can be found growing in many parts of the world including Asia, Europe, and North America.

Q: What regions in New Zealand are famous for kiwi production?

A: The main kiwi-growing regions in New Zealand are the Bay of Plenty, Northland, and Gisborne. These regions provide favorable conditions, including the right climate and fertile soil, ideal for kiwi cultivation.

Q: Can kiwis be grown in home gardens?

A: It is possible to grow kiwis in home gardens, provided you have the right conditions for their growth. Kiwi plants require a lot of space, a trellis or support system, and a suitable climate.

It’s always best to check with your local nursery or gardening expert for advice specific to your area.

Q: Do kiwis grow on trees or bushes?

A: Kiwis grow on vines, not trees or bushes. The kiwi plant is a vigorous climber that uses tendrils to attach itself to supporting structures such as trellises or fences.

Final Thoughts On Where Are Kiwis Grown

The kiwi originated in China, gained international popularity in New Zealand, and is now grown throughout the world. Kiwis are cultivated for commercial use in Europe, North America, South America, and Asia, as well as in New Zealand!

The global growth of the kiwifruit means that they have different seasons in different places. Kiwi plants that start fruiting in Italy do so at a different time than those in New Zealand and Chile.

And although China was the original home of the kiwifruit, the country didn’t start farming kiwi until later in the 20th century! Despite that, China is now the world’s largest producer of kiwi.

They require specific climatic conditions, and growers often use trellises to support the vines. Kiwis can be grown organically, and certain cultivars offer different flavors and appearances.

Whether they are grown commercially or in home gardens, kiwis thrive in the right conditions to provide delicious kiwi fruits enjoyed worldwide.

Also, if you are in the mood for cooking with kiwis, a popular Kiwi fruit cookbook I use is the Easy Kiwi Cookbook: 50 Delicious Kiwi Recipes, Simple Techniques for Cooking with Kiwi by BookSumo Press and readily available on Amazon. Enjoy!

Further Recommendations:

Video: How to Grow, Prune and Harvest Kiwifruit

References:

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4 responses to “Where Are Kiwis Grown? Exploring the Origins”

  1. VeganVicky Avatar
    VeganVicky

    Love kiwis for their nutrition and versatility in vegan recipes! Exciting to learn more about where they come from and how they’re grown. Thanks for the great read, Francis!

  2. Mike232 Avatar
    Mike232

    Didn’t realize kiwi was such an international fruit. Interesting how many countries are involved in growing it.

  3. Jim-J Avatar
    Jim-J

    Kiwis don’t grow on trees, they run around New Zealand right? haha, just kidding folks.

  4. KiwiFan123 Avatar
    KiwiFan123

    I’ve always been fascinated by how kiwis are grown. It’s amazing that they come from far-off places but are available worldwide. Thanks for sharing this, Francis Pena!

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