After a successful sales trial, Zespri will decide by the end of the year if its red kiwifruit will become a commercial crop. About 30,000 trays of the fruit were sold in New Zealand supermarkets over a five-week period this year and it was also shipped to Singapore.
Zespri chief executive Dan Mathieson said there had been "an exceptional response" to the trial: "It has a really vibrant colour and sweet flavour and it's gone particularly well in our trial market in Singapore, selling out in a couple of weeks.”
Sales had also been strong at home, partly due to the fruit's appearance, which Mathieson said drove a greater level of interest. Mathieson: "A couple of challenges still remain and that's around storage and also the fruit, at an ambient temperature, tends to ripen more quickly than our other varieties. We're gathering all the information at the moment and we'll make a decision whether we commercialise or not later in the year."
Regardless of which way the decision went, the fruit would be available in small quantities again next year, with current trial blocks expected to produce similar volumes to this season.
The red fruit has a sweet taste, similar to the SunGold variety but with a berry twist, and gets its vibrant red flesh from a naturally occurring pigment called anthocyanin.
Zespri and Plant & Food Research began working on the red variety in 2000 but the first generation was wiped out by the Psa disease and a second Psa-tolerant generation had to be developed.