Thursday, April 25, 2024

RubyRed colours up Zespri fruit portfolio

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The long-awaited commercialisation of Zespri’s red kiwifruit has been crowned with a reworked brand name for the fruit, Zespri RubyRed.
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Zespri says the RubyRed fruit has strong appeal among younger consumers.

The long-awaited commercialisation of Zespri’s red kiwifruit has been crowned with a reworked brand name for the fruit, Zespri RubyRed.

After almost a decade in development and a long wait by growers for commercial quantities of the fruit, 2022 marks the first full official commercial season for the crop following earlier trials over the past two seasons, locally and in Singapore outlets.

Packing out as a smaller fruit than its SunGold counterpart, Zespri has downplayed the fruit’s launch until now, acknowledging short shelf-life characteristics mean its initial main markets are likely to be the shorter-haul Asian markets.

The fruit also offers an appealing option to growers who may be baulking at the soaring plant variety licence costs associated with growing the SunGold variety.

In the past two years licence fees for SunGold have surged. The last tender round for 700ha of SunGold allocated at tender achieved a median cost of $550,000 a hectare, up from $400,000 the year before.

RubyRed values for the initial 150ha offered in 2020 were $62,500 a hectare, with this year’s 350ha allocation increasing to $74,970 a hectare.

Bidding interest had also jumped, with 152 successful bids out of 343 total bids and total demand outstripping allocated area by 2:1.

Zespri chief growth officer Jiunn Shih says the appeal of the fruit to consumers lies in its colour and a more berry-like taste that appeals to a younger consumer profile.

He says the name alteration better reflects the fruit’s colour and had received good feedback from the market.

“As we’ve moved towards establishing commercial volumes of our red kiwifruit, we’ve been exploring names that better embody the essence of the fruit and which we hope resonate with our consumers,” Shih said.

The research and name had to also allow for the name to translate well across different languages within the broad Asian market and was in the process of being trademarked.

The availability of another fruit variant to Zespri’s portfolio will help extend fruit supply at a time when demand for SunGold in particular has been increasing to the point it now accounts for over half the marketer’s total fruit sales, with almost 100 million trays of SunGold sold this season.

Shih says Zespri was continuing with growing trials in its Northern Hemisphere orchard sites to determine the commercial potential of RubyRed in different growing climates.

The fruit was developed through Zespri’s partnership with Plant & Food Research, with the red flesh colour attributed to anthocyanin, a pigment linked to cardiovascular and cognitive health.

RubyRed will be available to NZ, Singapore, Japan and China consumers between March and late May next year.

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