Italian fresh produce consortium Origine Group has launched a new kiwifruit brand called Sweeki, which it will use to market both Hayward green kiwifruit and a new red-fleshed variety called HFR18, the latter predominately to customers in Asia.
A fusion of the words ‘sweet’ and ‘kiwi’, the Sweeki brand was unveiled at Fruit Attraction in Madrid by the group’s general manager Federico Milanese, who confirmed that around 400ha of red kiwifruit are set to be planted by Origine’s nine members, which together represent around 19 per cent of Europe’s kiwifruit production, as well as more than 4 per cent of the continent’s pear output.
With around half that targeted planted area due to be in place by next spring, the consortium has moved fast to prepare a commercial strategy for the fruit.
Under the Sweeki brand, it is expected that as much as 80 per cent of the volumes produced will be sold in Asia, where consumers are said to favour a sweeter kiwifruit than in Italy’s largest European market, Germany.
“HFR18 has a sweeter flavour than Hayward and also a tropical flavour too,” said Milanese, adding that its average Vitamin C and dry matter content was also higher than in green kiwifruit.
In Europe, the tendency for Spanish consumers to favour a sweeter kiwifruit could potentially see Spain overtake Germany as Origine’s largest Europe market, should the red variety prove popular.
At present, Origine’s members sell a total of approximately 52,000 tonnes of kiwifruit in the German market each year, compared with roughly 42,000 tonnes in Spain.
Resonating with consumers
Milanese told those attending Sweeki’s official launch that the name had been chose deliberately to resonate with consumers in its intended markets.
“Sweeki is a very simple name that is easy to pronounce, short and easy to remember, with a logo that recalls that of Origine Group [itself],” he said. “It’s aimed at a class of consumer that looks for healthy food but doesn’tt accept any compromise on taste.”
With that in mind, Origine has set its sights on countries where kiwifruit consumption is already high but where consumers are ready to accept a premium, more upmarket offer.
As Milanese explained, this includes Spain as well as countries in Asia. “The target for us are countries with a high propensity to receive high quality and where consumers are brand sensitive, like in the Far East.”
He added: “We will concentrate our attention especially in Asia, in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Malaysia. Countries where currently the consumers are really paying attention to brands.”
HFR18 is licenced in Europe by Ferrara-based company Fruitgrowing Equipment and Service and was originally developed in China by a team led by Professor Li Mingzhang of the Deyang Professional Academy of Kiwifruit in Sichuan Province.
Antonio Ruffo, chief executive of Fruitgrowing Equipment and Service, was in Madrid to see the launch of the Sweeki brand, a key part of the variety’s development on the road to becoming a key player in the global kiwifruit market.
“This is a great new variety that is relatively easy to produce and has a distinctive, balanced sweet-acid flavour that we think will be very popular,” he said.