More than $35 million is invested in kiwifruit innovation each year and Zespri’s inaugural Kiwifruit Innovation Symposium in Mount Maunganui today will showcase leading science underway across the industry to a sold-out crowd. Zespri General Manager Marketing & Innovation Carol Ward explains Zespri set up this event to profile the work underway across the industry, share findings and get industry input into directions and priorities for future research.
“This an innovation conference for the industry and with the industry. By bringing our Zespri innovation leaders together along with so many of our research partners – the Riddet Institute, Plant & Food Research, KVH, Massey University and many more – we can show the industry the great work that’s going on right across the industry,” says Ms Ward.
Zespri Chief Executive Lain Jager explains the pace of change in the world is getting faster and innovation is a race.
“We need to innovate faster than the competition to stay relevant to our consumers and drive value back to our industry,” says Mr Jager.
The new cultivar breeding programme accounts for more than half of Zespri’s innovation funding – with over $20 million invested by Zespri, Plant & Food Research and the government each year – and has produced the game-changing SunGold (Gold3) and Hort16A varieties, adding nearly $4 billion to the NZ economy. Bryan Parkes, Operations Manager for the Zespri-Plant & Food Research breeding programme will update the audience on progress towards producing another revolutionary cultivar for the kiwifruit category.
Health communication is Zespri’s key marketing platform with consumers and Zespri Innovation Leader Juliet Ansell will outline how consumers around the world connect health with food and how Zespri’s investment in health research supports its premium, healthy position in the market. The work towards recognised regulatory health claims and scientifically-proven health benefits underpins this and gives the industry credibility with health professionals and consumers.
The programme also includes interactive workshops exploring topics as diverse as how a new green cultivar would be integrated into Zespri’s portfolio, ways to transfer innovations quickly throughout the industry and how the industry can apply learnings from Psa to other biosecurity threats. Exploring the limits of kiwifruit production will also be outlined – with yields tripling in the apple industry over the past 50 years, the kiwifruit industry has significant room for improvement.