Australasian group Freshmax will import, trial, commercialise and market a portfolio of strawberries from renowned European research and breeding programme Consorzio Italiano Vivaisti (CIV).
Under an IP licensing arrangement signed between the two firms, Freshmax’s New Zealand growers will have access to a suite of new varieties from the CIV programme, including the Flavia and Flaminia cultivars.
Simon Gillett, general manager of IP and marketing at Freshmax, said the deal was part of the group’s commitment to evolving the New Zealand berryfruit space, delivering greater long-range values to its growers and providing a better experience for end consumers.
“This is an exciting opportunity and another step for us in a rapidly shifting category,” Gillett explained. “Flavia and Flaminia are performing well in Europe and we’re looking forward to evaluating their impact in New Zealand. There is significant potential in this market and as a group we’re keenly focused on growing the berryfruit space.”
Despite a favourable climate, New Zealand’s berryfruit sector remains somewhat fragmented and under-developed, with a highly seasonal consumer offering.
As the two primary cultivars in CIV's new portfolio, Flavia and Flaminia have been bred to be highly resistant to powdery mildew and leaf and root diseases. CIV claims they are also suitable for tired soils, with their early maturity, intense sweetness and long shelf life expected to be a hit with consumers across the globe.
“With investment in better varieties and superior production technologies Freshmax sees that New Zealand’s berry offering is set to become more stable with rising export opportunities to Australia and Asia”, said Rene Hylkema, Freshmax New Zealand’s new variety manager.
The group expects the varieties to be available to Freshmax’s New Zealand retail customers and global markets via its international arm Valley Fresh.