The success of Zespri’s SunGold kiwifruit has been recognised at the New Zealand Innovation Awards. The branded gold kiwifruit variety took out the Sustained Innovation Excellence and Export Innovator of the Year categories at an awards ceremony in Auckland late last week.
Zespri operations manager: kiwifruit new cultivar development, Bryan Parkes, said SunGold has been the cornerstone of the New Zealand industry’s recovery from the Psa vine killing disease, with volumes growing strongly and a great reception from customers and consumers around the world.
“Zespri SunGold kiwifruit has been a fantastic commercial success built on sustained innovation excellence,” Parkes explained. “SunGold was developed in the Zespri-Plant & Food Research new cultivar breeding programme with the support of the New Zealand government and it’s been a real game-changer for the industry.”
Hoping to build on SunGold’s growing popularity, Zespri has allocated another 400ha of SunGold licences this year, with provisions for another 400ha each year for the next three years. There are currently around 5,300ha of SunGold in production across New Zealand, with another 3,000ha licenced around the world, providing Zespri with a year-round presence on retail shelves.
Parkes said the success of SunGold is critical to Zespri achieving its goal of more than doubling sales revenue to NZ$4.5bn by 2025.
“It’s takes a long time to commercialise a new cultivar: SunGold was commercialised in 2010 and has almost entirely replaced the previous gold cultivar Zespri Gold or Hort16A, which was very susceptible to Psa,” Parkes explained. “Winning these awards is a real boost for the many researchers who’ve worked on this programme over the years and I’m both humbled and proud to accept them on their behalf."