A new grower co-operative company is being set up to manage the release, marketing and licensing of new varieties of apricot.

The varieties, known as NZsummer2, NZsummer3 and NZsummer4, have not yet been given brand names.

An interim board to establish the commercial entity has been appointed and has four directors from Central Otago, including interim chairman orchardist Nigel Hinton, of Alexandra.

Mr Hinton said Summerfruit New Zealand's Apricot Co interim board was a sub-committee of the industry organisation and its role was to work through the establishment process of Apricot Co.

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Apricot Co was a working title for the business entity and might change.

He said Apricot Co would be responsible for the commercialisation of the new Summerfruit varieties that were developed with Plant and Food Research, including controlling the plantings, and the marketing of the new varieties which were bred to ''deliver excellent consumer appeal''.

''Apricot Co has been discussed within the industry for a number of years as new stonefruit varieties have been developed within the breeding programme with Plant and Food Research,'' Mr Hinton said.

''New varieties of peaches and nectarines etc may also become part of the new entity's business.

''Summerfruit New Zealand members want the commercialisation of these varieties managed by a grower co-operative in the best interests of growers and ensuring the opportunity to grow the new varieties are available to all growers.''

He said the Apricot Co interim board met for the second time in Alexandra last Tuesday and they were in the early stages of its development.

''The final board of AC will be elected according to the constitution, which is still being drafted,'' Mr Hinton said.

''There may be some transition period to the fully elected board.''

He said the new varieties of apricot, might lead to a resurgence in the apricot industry — both for the local and export markets.

''There have been some larger trial blocks planted this spring and I believe there is a lot of interest for next season so we will see some results in couple of years.''

He said Summerfruit New Zealand was funding the Apricot Co interim board to set up the legal entity.

''However, the funding model for Apricot Co has yet to be confirmed while the establishment costs and the running costs have yet to finally quantified.

''The final entity will operate as a self-funding commercial enterprise for the mutual benefit of its shareholding members, but the financial structure and funding mechanisms are still being determined,'' he said.

The interim directors also included orchardists Gary Bennetts, of Roxburgh, and Roger Brownlie, of Napier.

Basil Goodman, of Cromwell and Bruno Simpson from Nelson, are the two independent directors, and consultant Earnscy Weaver, of Springvale, Alexandra, is the Summerfruit New Zealand director.