Distributor to seek South African partner to trial Southern Hemisphere production for Japanese-bred apple 


Kimito was first registered in 2016

Hirosaki University-bred apple variety HFF63 marketed as Kimito, is set to be cultivated in South Africa under a deal with Wismettac Foods. 

The late-ripening yellow variety was first registered in 2016 and, according to Hirosaki University, is expected to become popular as a labour-saving, high-value-added gift apple due to its excellent storage properties.  

Wismettac Foods, one of the major subsidiaries of Wismettac Group, is a major distributor of Japanese fresh and packaged food with a strong presence in North America, Europe and Asia Pacific with offices in 45 locations worldwide. 

In 2020, the company partnered with Hirosaki University on joint research and development for the variety and acquired the breeding rights for Kimito. 

According to reporting from The Asahi Shimbun, Wismettac Foods will partner with a South Africa-based business to register and trademark the apple in the country.  

Exported seedlings are currently undergoing test cultivation in a local partner’s orchard after passing an inspection at the local quarantine station. 

Given South Africa is counter-seasonal to Japan, this partnership will mean Kimito apples will enjoy an extended season and be available throughout the year for export to Asia and elsewhere. 

Under the original agreement, Hirosaki University will earn a license fee for the use of the variety in South Africa based on intellectual property rights. 

The deal comes as the Japanese government is promoting efforts to protect intellectual property in a bid to increase the export value of agricultural, forestry, and fishery products to ¥2tn by 2025 and ¥5tn by 2030.  

In line with this goal and as part of its medium-term management plan (2024-2026), Wismettac Group has set overseas production and sales of Japanese varieties, utilising intellectual property rights, as a new pillar of revenue as part of its efforts to promote the global expansion of its fresh produce business.