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Zespri and Pagoda Announce Red Kiwifruit’s China Launch in Mid-April

March 10, 2021

Zespri recently announced plans to launch its new red-fleshed kiwifruit variety, Zespri Red, on the Chinese market for the first time, with fruit retail giant Pagoda as its exclusive partner for sales in China.

As the production volume of the new red kiwifruit is still fairly small, Zespri will initially be releasing a limited quantity of the fruit to the Chinese market — around 20,000 boxes. The new variety has an estimated launch date of mid-April, with a sales period of only two months. Zespri Red kiwifruit will be available for purchase on Zespri’s Tmall online flagship store and in Pagoda’s physical retail stores in Shanghai.

Zespri’s new red kiwifruit variety is slightly smaller and softer than the green and yellow varieties that many consumers are more familiar with. The naturally bright red flesh has a rich berry flavor and is high in anthocyanins, which possess strong antioxidant properties. As the flesh is relatively soft, out of consideration for shipping times and shelf life, the Asian market was Zespri’s first choice of destination for Zespri Red. During sales trials in Singapore, the red kiwifruit’s appearance and flavor garnered enthusiastic feedback from consumers.

Commenting on the upcoming launch, a spokesperson for Zespri reportedly stated that Pagoda was an important direct retail partner for the company, representing the top sales volume among Zespri’s direct retail partners for four years running since the partnership between the two companies began in 2017. Especially noteworthy is that despite the global pandemic, Pagoda still hit its 2020 sales target of 2.75 million boxes of Zespri kiwifruit — an impressive achievement.

According to Zhu Qidong, vice president of Pagoda Group, the retailer is also exploring new formats for its collaboration with Zespri this year, in addition to Pagoda’s existing omni-channel distribution model that includes 4,600 physical stores, an app, mini-programs and community group-buying services. Zhu added that the two companies were working together to introduce new formats that would benefit the public, allowing consumers to enjoy delicious Zespri kiwifruit from Pagoda’s platform as well as making a contribution to continued social development.

The Zespri Red kiwifruit cultivar is the result of Zespri’s collaboration with New Zealand’s Plant & Food Research. This research institute is currently the world’s largest specialized kiwifruit breeding and research center and was founded in partnership between Zespri and New Zealand’s Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment. The institute’s breeding programs have generated a myriad of different kiwifruit varieties, including many that are standard features on today’s market as well as dozens of more unusual types that come in numerous colors and flavors, such as a white-skinned mini kiwifruit with green flesh and red spots and an orange-fleshed kiwifruit with a spicy flavor. Aside from kiwifruit, Plant & Food Research has also been experimenting with growing kiwi berries, a small, soft-fleshed fruit about the size of a grape with a sweet, refreshing flavor.

When developing any new product, Zespri has four major criteria that must be considered: flavor, flesh color, resistance to pests and disease, and shelf life. Kiwifruit vines need at least two years of growth before they can produce a commercially viable crop — Zespri’s red-fleshed cultivar entered the final stages of commercial and transportation trials in 2019. In December 2019, Zespri decided to officially begin commercial production of red kiwifruit in New Zealand, and the company approved permits for the planting of over 150 hectares of orchards in 2020.

Images: Pagoda (main image), Zespri (body image)

This article was translated from Chinese. Read the original article.

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