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[Press Release] Zespri to Commercialize Red Kiwifruit

December 06, 2019

This content has been published as provided by its author. It has only been modified from its original version to follow Produce Report editorial guidelines and for necessary website formatting.

December 4, 2019 — Kiwifruit consumers in some of Zespri’s key markets will soon be able to enjoy Zespri Red kiwifruit following a decision by the Zespri Board today to commercialize a red kiwifruit variety for New Zealand growers.

Zespri CEO Dan Mathieson said that the decision is a significant milestone and represents the next step in Zespri’s mission of providing the world’s leading portfolio of premium branded kiwifruit.

“After incredible feedback from our passionate consumers, we’re really excited to announce we will be making our new Zespri Red variety available to consumers, with production set to increase in New Zealand over the next couple of years so that we can reach commercial volumes,” Mathieson said.

“Adding a red kiwifruit variety to our range of premium kiwifruit provides Zespri with an opportunity to further compete for market share in areas where kiwifruit is currently under-represented and 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 program, run in partnership with Plant and Food Research. It has been through an extensive trial process to show the fruit not only tastes delicious but also has the ability to perform to Zespri’s high expectations, from the orchard right through the supply chain and into fruit bowls around the world.

“This fruit has a deliciously sweet berry-tinged flavor and vibrant red flesh and we’re thrilled to see such strong demand from our initial limited sales release,” said Mathieson.

“That we can make this variety available is a real credit to the growers who have been involved in our trials, our new varieties breeding program run in partnership with Plant and Food Research, and the commitment to innovation within Zespri and the wider kiwifruit industry.

“This commercialization also reflects our commitment to always do better – whether that be by offering better products or making greater contributions to our local communities.”

A slightly smaller and softer-handling kiwifruit than Green and SunGold, Zespri Red’s distinctive red flesh stems from anthocyanin – a unique and naturally occurring pigment within the fruit that is linked to cardiovascular and cognitive health.

Consumers in New Zealand and selected markets can expect to see limited releases of Zespri Red in selected supermarkets and fruit retailers again in 2020 and 2021, as production increases toward commercial volumes in the coming years.

The red variety is initially planned to be launched in Asia given the shorter marine transit times, while trials will continue in other Zespri production regions in the Northern Hemisphere to determine the commercial potential of the cultivar in different environments.

“We know there’s a strong demand for a red kiwifruit and we’d love to get this fruit to our consumers sooner, but the fact that kiwifruit depends on nature’s cycles means it’ll take at least two years for the vines here in New Zealand to produce enough fruit to meet initial demand,” Mathieson said.

As part of the commercialization decision, Zespri’s Board of Directors have approved the release of at least 150 hectares of Red licenses in 2020, based on a current assessment of budwood availability. As is the case with any new variety, growers and investors will need to consider the potential risks of this variety when participating in the commercialization of Zespri Red. Further details on the licensing process and performance characteristics for Zespri Red will be made available to Zespri growers in March 2020 when a New Varieties Information Guide and other licensing documentation will be published by Zespri.

Mathieson confirmed that the addition of Zespri Red would assist Zespri in helping reach its ambition of reaching $4.5 billion in global sales by 2025.

“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,” said Mathieson.

About Zespri Group Ltd.

With a global operating revenue of $3.1 billion in 2018/19, Zespri is one of the world’s most successful horticulture marketing companies and the Zespri brand is recognized as the world leader in premium-quality kiwifruit. Based in Mount Maunganui, New Zealand, it is 100% owned by current or past kiwifruit growers and employs over 500 people in New Zealand, Asia, Europe and the Americas. On behalf of its 2,800 growers in New Zealand and 1,500 growers based elsewhere, Zespri manages kiwifruit innovation and supply management, distribution management and marketing of Zespri Green, Zespri SunGold, Zespri Organic, Zespri Gold, Zespri Sweet Green Kiwifruit and, as of today, Zespri Red.

Images: Zespri