A kiwifruit with a cream skin which peels like a banana is among new varieties under development in New Zealand.

Growing company Zespri also plan to develop a kiwifruit with striking red flesh, while a ‘sports kiwifruit’ is being developed to give athletes a natural vitamin boost.

But it may be some time before the new kiwifruit appear on supermarket shelves. There are 50,000 potential cultivars currently under evaluation and four new varieties, three of them gold and one green, are in the final stages before a potential commercial release.

Zespri and Plant & Food Research, based at Te Puke, is also developing a superior large red fruit with the taste and keeping qualities the market demands. A further 47 new cultivars with promising attributes are being evaluated in smaller trials around New Zealand, the group says.

One early and two long-life gold varieties and an earlier, sweeter green kiwifruit are now growing in pre-commercial trials and may be released to orchardists by 2011.

Scientist Alan Seal, who was closely involved with the development of gold kiwifruit said the genus offered possibilities for fruit ranging from not much bigger than a strawberry to apple size and with a variety of flesh colours, taste and nutritional attributes.

“The easy peel fruit looks great and has about 10 times more vitamin C than Hayward kiwifruit, which already has more Vitamin C than citrus,” he said. “However, the flesh is bland tasting so we need to work on its flavour before it becomes a commercial possibility.

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