The new premium green variety has a flavour and aroma more typical of yellow kiwifruit
The first commercial campaign for the new Dulcis kiwifruit is underway following successful trials last season. The exclusive all-Italian green variety, developed by New Plant in collaboration with the Universities of Udine and Bologna and grown and marketed by Alegra, Apofruit Italia and Orogel Fresco, has a flavour and aroma more typical of yellow kiwifruit, but with green pulp.
The typical acidity of green kiwifruit is balanced by a high brix level and dry matter content, resulting in a flavour profile designed to appeal to operators and consumers alike.
Mirco Montefiori, chairman of Dulcis Kiwifruit Company, said the variety was borne out of a need to innovate in the green kiwifruit segment.
“We wanted to create a total, integrated project in which we could control every aspect of the supply chain, from production to storage, packaging and sales,” he explained. “We started envisioning this project in the early 2000s when the genetic improvement programme of New Plant, the University of Udine and the University of Bologna, and the tests in the following years identified and developed the Ac 459 011 variety, today marketed as Dulcis.
“In October this year, we established the Dulcis Kiwifruit Company, which brings together, on an equal footing, in addition to the aforementioned New Plant, three top players in the fruit and vegetable sector, Alegra, Apofruit Italia and Orogel Fresco, which are responsible for producing and marketing Dulcis™ both in Italy and abroad.”
The company said it is encouraged by the sales prospects for the new variety. The first pallets have already left, bound for Italian and European retailers.
With regard to the domestic market, Mirco Zanelli, sales director at Apofruit, commented: “We have observed great interest and attention towards this project. This confirms that we are on the right track, tapping into an unprecedented opportunity in the segmentation of the green kiwifruit.
“It’s a project that is deeply rooted in Italy and the national market is therefore a target market, with several distribution chains involved in the product launch through their points of sale.
“However, we have not overlooked the main wholesale markets, ensuring that both channels, large-scale distribution and normal trade become standard-bearers of this significant new product, which relies on end consumers to raise its profile.”
While Italy is the main target market for Dulcis, the kiwifruit is also aiming at the European markets with a very precise strategy, according to Mauro Laghi, CEO of Alegra. “The volumes destined for foreign markets are still limited, which is why we have chosen to focus on certain chains that recognise the project’s value” he explained.
“For each north-western European country, we have identified a representative chain in terms of supply-side innovation to lead the way. We have decided to accommodate our customers’ different needs with larger sizes for Spain and medium sizes for the UK and Belgium, though never less than 30-33.
Indeed, one of the advantages of the Dulcis green kiwifruit, in addition to its unmistakable flavour, is the large size of the fruit.”
The company said quality of the fruit is expected to be excellent thanks to the variety’s special characteristics, which have attracted considerable interest from producers. “The variety is very productive and adapts well to different regions,” commented Vincenzo Finelli, CEO of Orogel Fresco.
“In general, it seems to exhibit a good tolerance to summer heat, especially considering recent years, as well as a lower sensitivity to spring frost. Other strengths include PSA tolerance, which is sufficient to permit commercial operation without the need for costly interventions such as rainproof netting. The fruit has an excellent shelf-life, which guarantees a suitable sales period for a large project and optimal product management throughout the supply chain.”
At sampling event held at the 24th edition of the Speciale Frutta&Verdura at Fico in Bologna in late November, Dulcis was met with enthusiastic approval from the public and industry experts, the company said.
The Dulcis marketing campaign will consist of advertising the national and international trade press, along with point-of-sale promotions in Italian retail chains and participation in major trade events like Fruit Logistica.