This story was showcased in our 2019/20 Annual Report
Summerfruit NZ is the industry body that represents the interests of approximately 230 apricot, cherry, nectarine, peach and plum growers and has a long-term programme of developing new summerfruit varieties, as well as working towards the establishment of an industry-led entity to commercialise these new varieties.
AGMARDT has provided four grants supporting this work in different ways between 2014 and 2016, including furthering the commercialisation of new apricots and creating interest both from growers, and marketers. As a result of this project work variety ‘NZSummer 1’, was discontinued.
“Of interest from this project was the advances in ripening, and the consumer feedback. That has led to further work to identify optimum maturity and eating quality, a challenge with a fruit that blushes early in the maturation process but develops other maturity parameters more slowly. This work is ongoing to ensure we identify optimum harvest for best consumer experience and hence sales value.” says Richard Palmer, Chief Executive, Summerfruit NZ.
COVID-19 has had some effect on the commercialisation process. Summerfruit NZ expects lower levy revenues in the coming season, there is uncertainty about sales in Asian markets, and the appetite for risk in taking on new varieties has diminished in the short term.
However, this provides an opportunity for Summerfruit NZ to revisit the commercialisation model and re-evaluate the key factors for success in these new apricot varieties. Overall, the effects of COVID-19 demonstrate the value of New Zealand’s highly productive and high-value primary industries.
“Summerfruit NZ is a part of this export-led recovery and diversifying into new export cultivars forms a part of the sector’s risk management. There are challenges with the coming season associated with labour and airfreight however the industry has come together, with a broad range of stakeholders, to identify solutions and get as well prepared as possible in these uncertain times.
“Summerfruit New Zealand has benefitted from a broad range of funding from AGMARDT, that support recognising the many and varied ways that sectors can benefit from funding injections. That has ranged from varietal assessment to funding travel for international quality speakers to conference, all of which broadens the depth of knowledge and exposure our growers have.”