A new kiwifruit breeding centre has been formally approved in the Bay of Plenty.
The centre, which will start operating from October 1, 2021, will be based in Te Puke as well as operating out of Kerikeri, Motueka and Mt Albert.
The centre is a 50/50 joint venture between Plant & Food Research and Zespri and will have a presence globally in selected kiwifruit regions.
Its focus would be driving greater innovation within kiwifruit breeding, focusing on creating healthier, better tasting and more sustainability focused varieties, Zespri and Plant & Food Research said in a joint statement today.
The proposal to create the centre was signposted publicly in December 2020, and followed two years of due diligence.
The centre has now received approval from both the Boards of Zespri and Plant & Food Research, as well as the shareholding Ministers of Plant & Food Research, which is a New Zealand Government-owned Crown Research Institute.
It will be jointly funded by Plant & Food Research and Zespri, and the organisations will share royalties from any future commercialised new varieties.
Plant & Food Research chief executive David Hughes described the decision as an exciting step for industry and innovation.
"It's a natural evolution of the hugely successful 30-year relationship between Zespri and Plant & Food Research which has delivered the world-leading SunGold Kiwifruit variety, alongside Zespri Red.
"This new venture will carry us further and faster," he said.
Zespri chief executive Dan Mathieson said the new venture underpinned the industry's commitment to accelerate innovation.
"This is an exciting development for our industry and will allow us to extend New Zealand's position as the world's leading innovator in kiwifruit.
"The centre represents our commitment to broaden our efforts exploring promising new varieties within our research pipeline and bring these to our growers and consumers faster."
Zespri and Plant & Food Research also announced experienced agrifood and innovation sector director Michael Ahie had been appointed to chairman of the Kiwifruit Centre Board.
Ahie is Chancellor of Massey University and a former chairman of Plant & Food Research.
Ahie said this was another milestone moment for the New Zealand kiwifruit industry.
"We are going to take our world-leading new cultivar development programme to the next level through the innovation of our people and increased investment by Zespri and Plant & Food Research.
"The kiwifruit breeding venture is fantastic news for the New Zealand kiwifruit industry and everyone who is a part of it."
Ahie said the board expected to announce the appointment of a chief executive officer for the new centre in the coming month.