Bostock New Zealand and Leaderbrand have partnered for the first time to exclusively grow a new, superior tasting buttercup squash variety called Marron d’Or.
The leading New Zealand growers believe the Japanese-bred variety will have appeal in Asian markets, particularly China where initial trial shipments proved extremely popular last year.
“It has a sweet, nutty flavour - which is really delicious,” said Bostock New Zealand owner, John Bostock. “It stays green for quite a period and doesn't decay as quickly as other squash varieties.
“I think the Chinese are very receptive to new cuisine and new taste and something foreign and exciting such as this. It's a new taste to compliment the local Chinese squash that isn't as sweet and doesn't have the flavours."
While Japan and Korea remain the leading markets for New Zealand squash exports, China has developed into a key market for the industry over the past decade, with shipments to the Asian nation expected to double year-on-year in 2019.
“Chinese consumers can’t get enough of our New Zealand Marron d’Or variety which is superior in terms of shelf life, colour and taste,” explained Bostock.
Leaderbrand and Bostock New Zealand have introduced official Marron d’Or branding to export markets and are pushing forward with a marketing programme that includes social media and in-store promotions, along with exposure through food service channels.
By partnering together, the companies hope to differentiate themselves from the low-cost, bulk growing-packing-marketing model, in favour of producing premium varieties and adding value in-market.
“We teamed up with Bostock New Zealand because they are experienced in growing like us and a collaborative approach will be stronger,” said Leaderbrand chief executive, Richard Burk. “I think we can deliver together and will have the scale to market this variety together.
“It is hard to grow squash well and get it right. It takes skills and experience and that is what both Leaderbrand and Bostock New Zealand have.”