NZ: future in doubt for recent Zespri kiwifruit variety
Issues have been raised over the commercial viability of a kiwifruit variety owned by New Zealand exporter Zespri amid disappointing market performance.
The Zespri Charm, or G9, cultivar was commercialized in 2010, but its permeable skin has made it less aesthetically pleasing than other varieties after sitting out in the open.
"It has a high water transpiration rate through its skin and so if it's left out in the open like in a fruit bowl or on a fruit display for any length of time it shrivels faster than other types of kiwifruit," New Zealand Kiwifruit Growers Incorporated (NZKGI) president Neil Trebilco told www.freshfruitportal.com.
He added the issue lay solely with the fruit's appearance and not with the taste.
"It's a great tasting fruit and consumers love it," he said.
"But because they're not used to seeing a fruit shrivel if it sits on a supermarket shelf for any length of time then obviously consumers will think that the fruit's past its best, but that's not necessarily the case at all."
Zespri is now working on finding a solution to the problem, and no decision will be made until May of next year.
It is understood that if the variety is deemed to not be commercially feasible in the long-term then G9 growers would be able to graft to the more popular Zespri SunGold kiwifruit, or G3, which commercialised in the same year.
Around 150 hectares of G9 are grown throughout New Zealand, compared to some 4,000 hectares of G3, and both are sold in the same export markets.
Trebilco said the G3 variety is also considered to be more resistant than the G9 to the epidemic bacterial disease PSA.
"I think of the gold varieties that I know of it seems to be the most tolerant," he said.
Both cultivars are said to have similar sweet tastes, with the Zespri Charm has a slight tang to it.