Canterbury scientists grow fruit in labs without trees, vines

Would you eat your favourite fruit if it was grown in a laboratory - rather than on a tree or a vine?

That's what scientists in Waitaha Canterbury are exploring, researching the possibility of growing fruit in a lab all year round.

A tiny speck of fruit weighing barely anything could grow into a new fruit variety for our horticulture industry.

"We're trying to grow fruit in a dish," Plant & Food Research senior scientist Dr Ben Schon said.

The tiny clusters growing in the labs at Plant & Food are plant cells plucked from berries, cherries, apples, and grapes.

"These cells are alive and growing happily," Dr Schon told Newshub.

"You take the cells, you grow them, you encourage them to do what you'd like them to do in order to get a piece of fruit flesh is what we're looking for."

There are no trees, bushes or vines in sight.

Instead, they are grown in a fully- controlled environment, part of the MBIE-funded five-year Food by Design programme.

“We'd like to think we'd be able to get something that's better than what you can get from the supermarket currently,” Dr Schon said.

That would create a more reliable food source, alongside traditional growing methods.

“It's not a replacement. So we want to be able to have all year round supply," Horticulture Goes Urban Co-Direction leader Samantha Baldwin said.

As well as a more secure supply from the outdoors in our fruit growing regions.

"We have the potential to have no disease in these systems cause we can control what goes in," Baldwin said.

The scientists are hoping what results is a more sustainable and fruitful future.

"What if, in the future, in your kitchen instead of a fridge you have something that can grow your fruit."

And it's just 18 months into this research, so it'll be some years before it fully ripens.