US growers hope new kiwifruit varieties will expand sales

Doug Phillips, a grower, shipper and packer in Visalia, California, said the hope is that greater availability of new and different kiwifruit varieties would generate market buzz and boost sales: "We think that by introducing some new red and gold (varieties) to the traditional green category, it's going to create more excitement and people may be more inclined to try kiwis.”

Phillips claims he can almost guarantee California and world production of red and gold kiwifruit varieties—which he described as sweeter than the traditional green-fleshed Hayward variety—will continue to increase in coming years, pointing to a trend already taking place in New Zealand.

As with other fruit crops, farmers continue to look for new and better kiwifruit selections with improved taste, appearance, storability and production, Phillips said, adding that he foresees more new varieties of red and gold kiwifruit coming down the pike, along with new green-fleshed varieties sweeter than the standard Hayward. also reported on grower Jerry Kliewer of Reedley, whose family has been growing kiwifruit since 1973; he currently grows a plus-sized kiwifruit variety from Greece that's 50% larger than the Hayward. Marketed as the Mega Kiwi, the variety made its market debut in 2017, is said to be higher yielding than the Hayward and to need fewer pollinators, according to the grower's website.

After many trials, Phillips said he's finally narrowed down a handful of "really good" varieties of gold and red kiwifruit that can grow well in the state and have good taste, size and storability.

With an acreage of about 4,400 acres in 2019, kiwifruit remains a relatively small crop for California growers, even though they produce nearly all the U.S.-grown kiwifruit supply.

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