The Hon Dr Wayne Mapp, Minister of Research Science and Technology, has announced a $35.7 million dollar investment into a seven-year ZESPRI / Plant & Food Research programme to develop new kiwifruit varieties.
The Foundation for Research, Science and Technology will contribute $15.2 million to the programme with ZESPRI contributing $20.5 million. Plant & Food Research will partner with ZESPRI and the Foundation to form the world’s largest and most significant research and development (R&D) programme into new kiwifruit varieties.
The investment in this consortium demonstrates the government’s commitment to the horticulture sector and to achieving targets for growing New Zealand’s export earnings from horticulture.
The horticulture sector aims to double the value of its earnings to $10 billion per annum by 2020.
“By investing in the most rigorous and exacting kiwifruit R&D programme, we can ensure that new generations of New Zealand Kiwifruit are the best in the world and that their commercial success delivers value and export earnings to New Zealand and New Zealand growers,” said Mr Lain Jager, CEO ZESPRI.
Foundation Chief Executive Murray Bain says the size of the investment is consistent with the importance of the kiwifruit industry to New Zealand.
“We have world leading breeding expertise at Plant & Food Research being matched with ZESPRI’s track record of success with ZESPRI® GOLD Kiwifruit. This long term funding provides a strong platform to produce new cultivars that will be significant export earners for New Zealand.”
The injection of $35.7 million over seven years will enable ZESPRI and Plant & Food Research to significantly up-scale their joint kiwifruit breeding programme.
“By investing in a proven partnership, we are able to make a step increase in the number of new cultivars developed in the breeding programme and introduce cutting edge plant breeding, screening and evaluation technologies to gain greater efficiencies and reduce the time to market,” said Mr Bruce Campbell, COO Plant & Food Research.
ZESPRI® GOLD Kiwifruit, a product of the existing breeding programme, currently worth over $468 million in global revenues annually, is an industry success story and a benchmark for all new cultivar R&D.
The research programme will target development of new varieties differentiated by their appearance, sensory or health attributes.
“As we fill the research pipeline and bring a number of new cultivars to the market, it is realistic to expect that within the term of this consortium, one outstanding cultivar will emerge and be commercially released with forecast sales of NZ$300 million,” said Mr Jager.
By integrating the investment in R&D with a defined and successful pathway to market, New Zealand Kiwifruit growers will benefit from the efficiencies of an integrated industry structure.