A splinter group of kiwifruit growers says it wants to form an Independent Kiwifruit Growers Association, separate from industry body New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Inc (NZKGI).
Association spokesman Marcus Wilkins said some growers had concerns over green grower profitability,and lacked confidence in NZKGI to address those concerns or adequately monitor the performance of Zespri under the Kiwifruit Export Regulations.
His group wanted increased accountability and transparency from Zespri, and for growers to be paid earlier for their crops, instead of having payments spread over 14 months
"Growers' fruit is largely sold by Christmas," he said. "They have major expenses on orchard between harvest and Christmas. That is when they need the money."
The association also wanted a review of dividends paid on "dry" shares in Zespri held by retired growers or other people not involved in kiwifruit production.
Mr Wilkins said the share structure meant grower funds were used to pay dividends to shareholders who were not growers and that there was an imbalance between production and shareholding.
"Orchards have been sold without shares attached and there have been new plantings, so you have a number of growers out there with no shares or less shares than their production," Mr Wilkins said.
In his own case, he bought his parents' orchard but they kept the shares and collected dividends -- 91c/share last year.
His parents were happy with that, but Mr Wilkins said he had bought shares at $5 each to get back some of the value of his own fruit in the form of the dividend.
"We would like to see Zespri get back to being the co-operative that it should be, where shareholding is related to production," he said.
Some growers were nervous about any deregulation forced on the industry because they suspected Zespri would ditch a lot of the smaller green kiwifruit growers and just keep the most profitable growers as suppliers.
"They are clearly anticipating deregulation," he said.
Zespri had been preparing by making "loyalty" payments to growers who only supplied it, and by making exclusive arrangements with packhouses.
"Growers without shares or with shareholdings not aligned to production (could) miss out on the value created in Zespri and its brand over the years by their fruit," he said.
Mr Wilkins rejected any suggestion the association was a tool of the Turners and Growers company, which is trying to break Zespri's grip on exports outside Australasia.
"We are not a Turners and Growers puppet," he said. "If they were stupid enough to offer us money we would turn it down."
Turners and Growers is seeking judicial rulings on Zespri and this confrontation provided a security blanket in an industry "where there is a lot of fear, intimidation and manipulation."
Zespri did not have to take his fruit because it had power to "discriminate on commercially-justifiable grounds."
Turners and Growers wanted to commercialise its own cultivars outside the Zespri channels and Mr Wilkins said he was already growing one of those cultivars.