Rockit apples could become a staple snack worldwide, says Rockit Global chairman John Loughlin.
The company was named ExportNZ Hawke's Bay's ASB Exporter of the Year last week, also winning won the Napier Port Industry Trail Blazer Award.
"We have a little apple with huge sweet taste that stores and never fails to impress people as a snack experience and a great fruit experience," he said.
He said New Zealand was responsible for what was probably the greatest modern innovation in fruit, the gold Kiwifruit.
"Our ambition is to put Rockit apples right up there with them."
He gave tribute to the vision and drive of founder Phil Alison to establish the product and the contribution of angel investors and the Rockit team in Havelock North. The investors contributed "enormously" with strategy, marketing, growing and the intellectual property aspects of the business.
"We have had a great team of people that have been through a lot and contributed enormously from orchard to pack house to market.
International partners were also growing the apple variety which Rockit Global wished to market on their behalf.
"We are not finished yet. This has the potential to be something really special and it is fantastic to be recognised so early in our journey."
Few in Hawke's Bay have a track record such as Mr Loughlin, giving weight to his prediction that Rockit is a global game changer. Food industry companies dominate his extensive governorship record. Chairmanships include Zespri Group, EastPack, Firstlight Foods, Allied Farmers and Hawke's Bay Winegrowers.
Directorships include Napier Port, AgResearch, New Zealand Meat Producers Board and NZ Lamb Company (North America).
In his executive career he was Richmond's chief executive for five years, leaving in 2002 before it was taken over by Dunedin-based PPCS (now Silver Fern Farms).
With wife Kathryn, he established Askerne Estate Winery.
Pockit apples are slightly bigger than a golf ball, sweet flavoured with a strong red colour and marketed in plastic tubes. The variety is a product of Plant & Food's Havelock North-based cross-breeding programme, started by the late Dr Don Mackenzie and developed further by Allan White.