Speaking to Fresh Fruit Portal at the recent London Produce Show, the entity’s U.K. and Ireland market manager Jayne Chamberlain said yellow kiwifruit was still relatively new to consumers, with green varieties making up the vast majority of sales.
But with rising supply, increasing consumer awareness and a bigger focus on marketing campaigns, sales of yellow and green could soon start to even out.
“We’re really on a growth path with SunGold, but it’s still very new in the U.K – in other countries in the world it’s actually much more established,” she said.
“Last year we were pleased because we doubled the sales of SunGold, albeit from a fairly small volume, and we expect to have similar growth over the next five years.”
The representative said green varieties were very much the foundation of Zespri’s business in the U.K. and sales were not projected to fall, but she explained SunGold had been able to offer something new to consumers.
“We see SunGold as really starting to reinvigorate the kiwifruit market in the U.K.,” she said.
“Especially as it has the ready-to-eat aspect of Zespri, which our green fruit has as well. It’s convenient, and that’s what people want.”
Chamberlain estimated sales of Zespri Green and SunGold could be on par with each other in the market by around 2020.
“We’re not quite doing 12-month supply yet but once the European supply increases having continuous supply will further accelerate sales,” she said.
The organization announced earlier this year that it would allocate an additional 1,800 hectares of European SunGold license over the next three years, doubling production. The first 1,200 hectares will be in Italy over the next two years.
Current production of Zespri SunGold in Italy is over 4 million trays this year from 800 producing SunGold hectares, the company said in February. Volumes are expected to nearly quadruple to around 15 million trays in the next five years.
As for this current New Zealand marketing season in the U.K. and Ireland, Chamberlain commented that the demand has been strong for SunGold.
“Demand is growing, and SunGold sales have started strong. There’s really an enthusiasm which has been fantastic. It’s a great platform for growth in future years,” she said.
She added the company had been increasing its marketing activities in the U.K. over the last few years to help build awareness and demand for the product.