Kiwi fruits grow in many areas around the world, including the United States, New Zealand, Chile, Italy, Greece and France. Of the kiwi-producing locations, Italy, Chile and New Zealand grow the highest number of kiwi. In the United States, most kiwis come from California, which produces less than the three leading export nations, but supplies the United States with most of its kiwi supply.
Kiwis are a popular fruit among citizens worldwide, and enjoy a long history of production. Although not a leading exporter, China was the first place where farmers grew kiwis for human consumption. Kiwi production there started in the Chang Kiang Valley, and gained popularity among the Khans. By the 1800s, kiwi production reached other countries, including New Zealand. Although known as "kiwifruit" now, the kiwi historically went by several other names, primarily Chinese gooseberry.
In addition to being the smallest national producer of kiwis, the United States was the last among kiwi-producing countries to start growing the fruit. The first kiwi-producing operation opened in California in the 1960s, and increased during the 1980s in response to high consumer demand. The warm, temperate climate of California provides ready-to-eat kiwis in the fall, which provide Americans with kiwis during the winter. Similarly, the mild climates of Chile and New Zealand produce kiwis in the spring, which supplies people with kiwis year-round. Although standard varieties require warmer climates to thrive, hardy varieties can grow in cooler climates such as the northeastern United States. Hardy varieties tend to be smaller and smoother than traditional varieties.
Kiwis require slightly acidic or neutral soil that is rich in nutrients. They thrive in full sun and need lots of water to grow.