The world is waiting for a good red kiwifruit, says Zespri, and the national exporter hopes to deliver in a couple of years.

Fieldays visitors to the Zespri site can sample the attractive red fruit, but it's taking time to fine tune its commercial introduction so the fruit is viable from orchard right through to consumer markets, says chief executive Dan Mathieson.

"It's an exceptional piece of fruit with strong consumer attraction, but we're still struggling with storage [time], he said.

Target storage time is 12 weeks and Zespri is currently at eight.

The Zespri Red was trialled last month with Singaporean kiwifruit buyers and "created a buzz", Mathieson said.


The sweet fruit is two years into a five-year pre-commercial trial stage.

Years of red fruit plant development by Zespri was wiped out by the Psa disease epidemic in 2010-2011 and while the Zespri Red was not immune to the disease, it put up a good fight against it, a spokesperson said.

When it is commercialised, the red fruit will be able to be grown in all New Zealand kiwifruit areas except for the South Island and Whangārei. These areas escaped the Psa scourge and no new plant material can be taken into them.

The red fruit's promise is not just in its colour and taste but in the fact it can be harvested as early as late February.

This will help Zespri's goal of being able to provide high-quality kiwifruit all year round from New Zealand and non-New Zealand Zespri orchards.

It would also add value to the total New Zealand kiwifruit variety pool, the spokesperson said.

New Zealand's rival for developing the world's best red kiwifruit is China.