Zespri is to sell a red kiwifruit variety and plans to increase production over the next two years.
Zespri Red is the latest kiwifruit to come through Zespri's new varieties breeding programme, run in partnership with Plant & Food Research.
The new fruit had been through an extensive trial process, including a limited sales release.
Zespri CEO Dan Mathieson said the decision to commercialise was a significant milestone.
"After incredible feedback from our passionate consumers, we're really excited to announce we will be making our new Zespri Red variety available to consumers, with production set to increase in New Zealand over the next couple of years so that we can reach commercial volumes," he said.
"Adding a red kiwifruit variety to our range of premium kiwifruit provides Zespri with an opportunity to further compete for market share in areas where kiwifruit is currently under-represented and ultimately grow our industry's share of the global fruit bowl," said Mathieson.
Trialling had included testing how the new fruit performed from the, from the orchard, through the supply chain and with prospective consumers.
"This fruit has a deliciously sweet berry-tinged flavour and vibrant red flesh and we're thrilled to see such strong demand from our initial limited sales release."
A slightly smaller and softer-handling kiwifruit than Green and SunGold, Zespri Red's distinctive red flesh stems from Anthocyanin - a unique and naturally occurring pigment within the fruit that is linked to cardiovascular and cognitive health.
Limited releases of Zespri Red in selected supermarkets and fruit retailers in New Zealand are expected again in 2020 and 2021, as production increases towards commercial volumes in the coming years.
The red variety was initially planned to be launched in Asia given the shorter marine transit times, while trials will continue in other Zespri production regions in the Northern Hemisphere to determine the commercial potential of the cultivar in different environments.
"We know there's a strong demand for a red kiwifruit and we'd love to get this fruit to our consumers sooner, but the fact that kiwifruit depends on nature's cycles means it'll take at least two years for the vines here in New Zealand to produce enough fruit to meet initial demand."
As part of the commercialisation decision, Zespri's Board of Directors have approved the release of at least 150 hectares of Red licence in 2020, based on current assessment of budwood availability.
Mathieson said the addition of Zespri Red would assist Zespri in helping reach its ambition of reaching $4.5 billion in global sales by 2025.