Zespri is preparing to take a civil case in China against growers who have illegally planted the gold kiwifruit variety SunGold. The Tauranga-based marketing co-operative said there could be as many as 2000-2500 hectares planted in the variety, which has enjoyed worldwide success since it was launched on the market in 2010.
The figure is a large increase on a previous estimate two years ago of about 100ha. In New Zealand there are 6500 hectares of SunGold, with a further 1100ha licensed overseas, which is sold at a premium to most other varieties. Sales of SunGold represent about half of Zespri's total revenue of $2.94 billion a year.
China is in the process of updating its plant variety rights laws to bring them into line with the most recent international standards. The illegal plantings are not the first affecting Zespri in China. In the early 2000s, the gold variety Hort16A was planted over about 1000ha, but did not appear significantly in stores.