The History of Zespri SunGold Kiwifruit
Kiwifruit has a history as rich as its taste is delicious — all thanks to talented visionaries, like New Zealand’s Isabel Fraser, Alexander Allison, and Hayward Wright, among others.
But how did the kiwi go from green to gold?
In 1904, Isabel Fraser, headmistress of the Wanganui Girls’ College, brought kiwifruit seeds back to New Zealand from her sister’s mission station in China’s Yangtze Valley. These seeds made their way to horticulturist, Alexander Allison.
In fact, the first kiwifruit vines were recorded as bearing fruit on Alexander Allison’s property, south of the girls’ college in Wanganui, the very next year.
Another Breakthrough; a New Name
The person responsible for the start of the kiwifruit industry as we know it, is Hayward Wright and his exceptional green thumb. In 1928, Hayward developed and commercialized the variety of kiwi with the familiar green-flesh.
In some circles, the green-variety kiwifruit is referred to as the “Hayward” variety even today!
From ‘Hayward’ to ‘Kiwifruit’
Kiwifruit has had many names throughout the years — “Chinese gooseberry,” “Yang Tao,” “melonette.”
Proud New Zealanders, who themselves are affectionately referred to as “kiwis,” wanted to rechristen the fruit in recognition of New Zealand’s national symbol – the special brown-feathered Kiwi bird.
From this, came the “kiwifruit” name we all know and love!
A Brand is Born
Committing to deliver the world’s best kiwifruit, the New Zealand kiwifruit growers decided to work together and unite under one brand in 1997. And so, Zespri® Kiwifruit brand was born.
New Zealand kiwifruit growers’ commitment remains unchanged today, working together with the very best growing practices to bring the best tasting quality kiwifruit to people all around the world.
The Gold Age
During the 1990s, Zespri began cultivating a new variety of kiwifruit, developed through our natural breeding program and run in partnership with New Zealand Plant and Food. This new yellow-fleshed gold variety was less furry than the green variety, with a sweeter, more tropical taste.
Kiwi growers worked hard to learn to grow this new crop of golden kiwifruit. By the turn of the century, growers begun exporting Zespri® Gold Kiwifruit all around the world.
Enter: Zespri® SunGold™ Kiwifruit
Sometimes great things come from difficult situations. In 2010, kiwifruit growers’ hardships came in the form of a bacterial vine disease, Pseudomonas syringae pv actinadiae (Psa). By July 2012, nearly half of New Zealand’s kiwifruit orchards suffered loss through Psa infection.
Gold Kiwifruit were particularly susceptible to the Psa bacteria and their vines were badly affected. But because Zespri® never stopped our commitment to innovation, we already had a new gold-variety kiwifruit in the natural breeding program, a variety that had been in development for over 10 years.
When we rolled out this new golden variety across the Zespri growers, the vines thrived, proving to be Psa-tolerant. Even better, this new golden variety tasted amazing, with a more balanced sweet-tropical taste than the original gold variety — and an even smoother skin!
SunGold™ Kiwifruit has been in commercial production for almost 3 years now and has been met with fantastic reception all around the world. But its unique taste wasn’t the only thing to rave about. Bursting with extra vitamin c, just one SunGold™ has all the vitamin C you need for the day.
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Though New Zealand kiwifruit industry has gone through many changes, our commitment to grow and sell the best kiwifruit remains unchanged. By continuing to put our consumers at the heart of everything we do, Zespri® Kiwifruit will continue to offer nutritious and delicious kiwifruit with the best flavor!