The variant is the latest from Zespri’s kiwifruit breeding programme in partnership with national science organisation Plant & Food Research.
Zespri Red has a red flesh stemming from its anthocyanin, which is a naturally occurring pigment in the fruit, and has a berry-like flavour.
In China, Zespri Red will be available in limited supply through T-Mall (e-commerce) and Pagoda (fruit shop chain).
It was first launched in New Zealand, Japan and Singapore where similar sales trials received positive feedback from consumers.
“Some of our initial data indicates that over its relatively short selling window, Zespri Red has attracted new customers to the kiwifruit category and the product has been purchased in addition to our green and gold varieties with very little substitution,” said Michael Jiang, Zespri Executive Officer, Greater China.
Consumers buying Zespri Red were typically younger in age than the average kiwifruit shopper.
He told FoodNavigator-Asia: “In New Zealand, we’ve had a huge response from consumers, with volumes selling through quickly and there’s been many queries about where people can purchase Zespri Red.”
“We’re looking forward to sharing the fruit with our consumers in China and we hope they are excited about the deliciously sweet berry-tinged flavour of Zespri Red, and the fruit’s vibrant red flesh.”
Zespri has not yet established commercial volumes of Zespri Red, as it hopes to continue sales trials in key Asian markets to improve understanding of the variant and consumer interest.
In each market, sales trial volumes have been approximately 20,000 trays.
To put this into perspective, Zespri is in its record season this year, expecting to supply 177 million trays of kiwifruit this season, or 700,000 tonnes. This includes its green, sungold and organic variants.
It hopes to progressively launch Zespri Red in 2022 across Asia.
Zespri Red is a nutritious fruit containing high levels of vitamin C, fibre and antioxidant.
Bibi Chia, Principal Dietician at Raffles Medical Group, Singapore commented: “Epidemiological studies have suggested that increased consumption of anthocyanins, coupled with an active lifestyle and healthy eating habits, can provide anti-inflammatory and anti-viral benefits.
“Coupled with its low glycemic index (GI) value, Zespri Red Kiwifruit is a delicious and suitable fruit for those that are monitoring their sugar levels.”
In 2020, Zespri announced its first partnership with an online retailer, JD.com to supply its green, sungold and organic sungold kiwifruits direct to consumers.
According to Jiang, Zespri sold more than one million trays of kiwifruits (3.3kg/tray) through JD.com’s flagship store, with sungold being the most popular variant.
“There’s still steady demand for our Zespri Green kiwifruit, while organic kiwifruit remains something of a niche market,” he added.
Since then, it has collaborated with more online players and is retailing on T-Mall, Benlai.com, Fruitday, PDD, Dingdong Maicai, and MissFresh.
Jiang said Zespri hopes to expand its online to offline business, and is looking to work with Hema, Elema and Meituan.
This season will see Zespri ship 177 million trays of kiwifruit to North Europe the Mediterranean and Asia.
Jiang said the recent Suez Canal blockage did not affect its shipments to Europe.