Kiwi consumers could soon have their pick of a new super-sized superfood - a jumbo blueberry the size of a $2 coin.
The new player dwarfs the typical blueberry Kiwis are used to munching in muffins and its backers expect that New Zealand production of the juicy heavyweight will pull in $8 million in the first two seasons alone.
Dubbed the "Eureka", the behemoth berry is among an Aussie-grown range to which transtasman company BerryCo has acquired the exclusive New Zealand rights, and the first 40ha will be planted here over the next couple of months.
The home-grown purple monsters will be initially sold into Southeast Asian markets - a 200g punnet can fetch $12.95 in Singapore - but they could also appear on New Zealand store shelves as early as next summer.
Sourced from Australia's Mountain Blue Orchards, the jumbo fruit have promisingly high yields - and their bulky size means fewer fruit are needed to fill punnets.
Eureka's export potential in Southeast Asia hadn't been tested until last year, when BerryCo - a joint venture between Bay of Plenty's Southern Produce and Valleyfresh in Victoria - shipped about 300 tonnes of the jumbo berries to markets in Singapore, Thailand, Hong Kong and the United Arab Emirates.
The company's director, Carwyn Williams, said the big berries also attracted promising feedback when presented at a Hong Kong trade expo.
"We came away with more customers and more orders than we can currently supply but that's a good problem to have," Williams said.
"As the New Zealand-grown berries become available for export, we will have hungry, ready-made markets waiting, including food service, catering and bakery lines in Europe."
Growers will also get a glimpse of the Eureka when BerryCo shares some of its research at a Tauranga field day next week.
Since receiving around 2000 plants in November, researchers at the company's Tauranga facility have been working alongside PlusGroup Horticulture on trials and testing new potting substrate mixes.
The team was joined by two Waikato University researchers, who monitored the growth and development of the nursery plants.
The company will be delivering its first 200,000 propagated plants to licensed growers this year, with the first plants distributed for planting in March. Today, about 700ha of
blueberry crops are grown in New Zealand, with about 25 commercial growers and another 50 part-time.
In 2015-16, the overall value of our blueberry industry was $57 million, with a $35 million export market that could grow to more than $60 million by 2022.
The fruits of Kiwi innovation
New Zealand has a rich and often-strange history of innovating new and improved fruit and vegetables. Here's our pick of the crop.
'The Richie McCaw of kiwifruit':
Scientists had their work cut out for them when they were tasked with developing a new kiwifruit to improve on what has been one of the world's most popular New Zealand-grown fruit: the Green or Hayward.
Likened to creating the 'Richie McCaw of kiwifruit', that title might have been better suited to the Hayward, which, for 60 years, had been unmatched in its high yield, long storage time, flavoursome taste and nutritional firepower.
Just one of the furry, oval-shaped fruits pack more fibre than four sticks of celery and more vitamin C than an orange.
But scientists at Zespri and Plant and Food Research have succeeded in finding what's poised to be the new jewel of our billion-dollar kiwifruit industry.
The Zespri board is yet to make a decision over whether it will be commercialised.
Is it a pear? Is it an apple? Nope, it's a papple:
Kiwi researchers played a part in creating this odd fruit, but naturally, it was the UK press that gave it a memorable nickname: the papple.
2012 saw the debut of the apple-shaped pear - a hybrid of Chinese and Japanese varieties that was developed by state-owned Plant and Food Research and grown in Motueka.
The fruit were noted for having the same crisp, juicy texture as nashi pears but a taste more like European pears, with sweeter and more complex flavours than Asian varieties.
Shortly after they hit markets overseas, we conducted an informal taste test in Wellington: verdicts ranged from "really, really good" to "kind of lame".
More recently, Plant and Food Research was behind the biggest new apple variety launched since Royal Gala: the big, sweet and brightly-coloured "Dazzle", which took nearly 20 years to perfect.
This super-spud is a real beauty:
Hopes are high for a new bright-skinned beauty in the potato patch that scrubs up well.
That's the White Beauty, a cross between the disease-resistant Summer Delight potato and the old multipurpose Australian favourite Coliban.
The result is a bright, versatile potato that is extremely high-yielding.
Launched last year, the spud, produced from a 15-year breeding programme at Plant and Food Research, packs a lower sugar and higher dry matter content than many other potatoes in the fresh market potato range, such as Nadine, the most widely consumed white potato.
This means it makes a good mash and is great for roasting, as well as being delicious boiled whole, making it a more versatile potato for consumers.
Although White Beauty was bred specifically for New Zealand conditions, it was also being evaluated in both Australia and the USA.