American Chamber of Commerce recognises raspberry programme

9 August 2013

A collaboration between a major US berryfruit producer and plant scientists in New Zealand has been recognised as an outstanding example of commercialisation by the American Chamber of Commerce.

A finalist in the Investor of the Year category at this year’s awards, the collaboration between Plant & Food Research and US partner Northwest Plant Company focuses on the breeding and commercialisation of new berryfruit cultivars for the US market. The collaboration was responsible for the successful commercialisation of the ‘Wakefield’ raspberry cultivar, which is fast becoming the preferred variety for many United States berryfruit producers.

Plant & Food Research and Northwest Plant began breeding red raspberries in Washington State in 1999, with a primary focus on developing new raspberry cultivars with improved tolerance to disease and suitable for processing. The first commercialised cultivar, ‘Wakefield’, was bred in New Zealand and sent to the USA for evaluation in 2009. In 2012, the first commercial harvest of ‘Wakefield’ yielded 20% more fruit than competitor varieties, with a higher percentage of fruit suitable for high value IQF (individual quick frozen) processing. By 2017, it is estimated that 910 hectares of ‘Wakefield’ will be planted in the region, increasing grower profitability by US$10 million over current varieties.

A new joint venture company, Pacific Berries, has been established to commercialise future cultivars from the research programme. The parties are mutually invested in the breeding programme activities as well as the commercialisation process.

“The Pacific North West of the USA is one of the largest process raspberry production areas in the world, producing around 10% of the global raspberry harvest,” says David Hughes, Group General Manager Commercialisation at Plant & Food Research. “This relationship with the Northwest Plant Company is a demonstration of how research can be commercialised in an offshore market, combining the expertise of fruit breeders in New Zealand with the market knowledge of our US counterparts. The programme benefits industry in New Zealand and the US by growing our mutual understanding of berryfruit breeding and premium berryfruit production, branding and marketing. We are very proud of this award and the recognition of the collaboration.”

The AmCham-DHL Express Awards celebrate success and innovation for New Zealand companies doing business with the USA. The 2013 Investor of the Year was won by Foley Family Wines.

Emma Timewell
Communications Manager, Corporate Communications,
Plant & Food Research Mt Albert,
120 Mt Albert Road, Sandringham
Auckland, 1025, New Zealand
Telephone: +64-9-925 8692
Mobile: +64-21-2429 365

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