New Zealanders will soon be able to sink their teeth into the juicy red kiwifruit after Zespri announced today the red-coloured fruit would be commercialised.
The Zespri Red is slightly smaller and softer-handling than Green and Sungold kiwifruit and had a sweet, berry-tinged flavour with a red flesh.
It was trialled in New Zealand markets and the positive feedback from consumers has lead to the Zespri Board decision to commercialise the fruit for New Zealand Growers.
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Zespri CEO Dan Mathieson said the decision was a significant milestone and represented the next step in Zespri's mission of providing the global portfolio of premium branded kiwifruit.
Mathieson said the addition of Zespri Red would help reach the company goal of $4.5 billion in global sales by 2025.
The fruit will be available to the public and production will increase over the next two years to reach commercial volumes, he said.
Mathieson said adding a red kiwifruit variety to the kiwifruit range gave Zespri an opportunity to further compete for market share in areas where kiwifruit is currently under-represented.
This would "ultimately grow our industry's share of the global fruit bowl."
Zespri Red is the latest kiwifruit to come through Zespri's world-leading new varieties breeding programme, run in partnership with Plant & Food Research.
It had been through an extensive trial process to involving how it tasted and the ability to perform from the orchard through the supply chain and into fruit bowls around the world.
Growers had been involved in the trials and the new varieties breeding programme was run in partnership with Plant & Food Research.
The red flesh stemmed from Anthocyanin which is a naturally occurring pigment in fruit and is linked to cardiovascular and cognitive health.
New Zealanders can expect to see limited releases of the fruit in selected supermarkets and fruit retailers in 2020 and 2021 as production increases towards commercial volumes in the coming years.
The red variety is initially planned to be launched in Asia while trials will continue in other Zespri production regions in the Northern Hemisphere.
It would take vines in New Zealand at least 2 years to produce enough fruit to meet initial demand.
As part of the commercialisation decision, Zespri's Board of Directors has approved the release of at least 150 hectares of Red licence in 2020.
Growers and investors would need to consider the potential risks of this variety when participating in the commercialisation of Zespri Red.
Further details on the licensing process and performance characteristics for Zespri Red would be made available to growers in March 2020.
This would be in the form od a New Varieties Information Guide and other licensing documentation will be published by Zespri.
"Zespri is committed to providing the world's leading portfolio of premium kiwifruit and we're looking forward to even more consumers being able to try Zespri Red in the years ahead as we increase production to commercial levels."