Andrew Mackenzie and Wendy Cashmore

T&G Global has today launched VentureFruit, a global genetics and variety management business.

Built off T&G’s deep experience in creating value from new fruit varieties, VentureFruit will bring new and superior fruit to consumers, retailers and growers around the world.

Coinciding with its launch, VentureFruit has signed two key partnerships. It is co-investing alongside science organisation Plant & Food Research in a range of new and unique berries, of which VentureFruit will be the exclusive global commercialisation partner. In addition, it is also partnering with Plant IP Partners to test and evaluate new varieties of apples which have been bred in New Zealand.

Gareth Edgecombe, Chief Executive T&G Global, says unique plant genetics are critical to shaping the future of a sustainable, global fresh produce sector.

“With consumers’ needs continually evolving, it’s vital our sector delivers on taste, nutrition, convenience and sustainability. We need to provide consumers and customers with great tasting, healthy fruit, and at the same time ensure that what we grow and the way we do it has a light footprint. Plant genetics play a pivotal role in delivering this,” says Gareth.

“Over the course of T&G’s 124-year history, we’ve established a track record in global IP management and commercialisation, built from our deep expertise in plant varieties and our extensive network of the world’s best genetics and scientific partners. This has seen us create premium brands from exclusively licensed varieties, including Plant & Food Research’s cultivar ‘Scilate’ marketed as Envy™, which is today one of the leading apple brands in the United States and Asia. More recently, we commercialised the world’s first climate-adapted apple from the Hot Climate Programme, a collaboration between Plant & Food Research, IRTA, and Fruitfutur, to breed apples and pears tailored for warm environments.

“Through unique varieties, our sector can grow high-value premium fresh produce. With this, increased value will be generated for consumers, retailers, growers and communities, and we can help nurture our natural environment through adaptation and innovation.”

In addition to its two new partnerships, VentureFruit has established an extensive pipeline of premium apple, pear and berry varieties and will work with customers across the globe, as well as providing its variety management services to T&G Global.

Blockbuster new berries for global consumers

Primocane Raspberry fruit

VentureFruit has partnered with Plant & Food Research to co-invest in the development and breeding of a range of unique new berries, including raspberries, boysenberries, blackberries and hybrid berries. This is being called the Rubus programme. VentureFruit will be the strategic global commercialisation partner for this new range.

Peter Landon-Lane, Managing Director VentureFruit, says the berries are being bred to meet consumers’ needs and increasing global consumption.

“Over the last ten years, global berry consumption has more than doubled and consumption per capita is expected to rise further, with high demand coming from Europe and North America. VentureFruit will help meet this growth through bringing high performing cultivars with unique characteristics to the market which not only deliver a better, more consistent product, but will extend the growing season and enable berries to be grown in different locations and soil types,” says Peter.

“The berries from our partnership with Plant & Food Research are being strategically bred with great robust flavours, distinctive colours – from yellow and orange to dark red, and a glossy appearance. In addition, they’ll be firm and able to produce high yields of quality fruit, which can be adapted to a range of environments and harvest windows.”

Emma Brown, Manager Plant Varieties, Plant & Food Research says this new partnership builds on a long and deep relationship spanning decades.

“Plant & Food Research and T&G have successfully worked together on a number of projects since the 1990s, most notably through the commercialisation of Plant & Food Research varieties that now underpin T&G’s world-leading JAZZ™ and Envy™ brands. This relationship was extended recently through T&G’s strategic partnership to commercialise new varieties from the Hot Climate Programme and our collaboration to develop and commercialise new blueberry cultivars. Plant & Food Research are thrilled to further deepen and broaden this relationship by partnering in the Rubus programme with VentureFruit,” says Emma.

With Plant & Food Research’s well-established pipeline of new varieties, the appointment of VentureFruit as the strategic commercialisation partner means initial berry varieties are expected to commence commercialisation in the next few years. Commercialisation will start in New Zealand and then move internationally, as plant material progresses through import quarantine, trials and evaluation in other countries.

New New Zealand-bred apple varieties

VentureFruit’s exclusive partnership with Hawke’s Bay-based breeders, Plant IP Partners, will see a test selection of new apple varieties planted in growing regions throughout New Zealand this winter.

In response to consumer demand for early season apples which also deliver on taste and texture, these new varieties will range from early-to-mid season, and are crisp and sweet, with high colour.

Peter Landon-Lane says significant investment is being made in consumer research to find the right apple for a particular market or consumer.

“VentureFruit is undertaking extensive sensory and insights research in key global markets on a wide range of apple varieties, which will help us understand consumer preferences and identify future growth opportunities,” says Peter.

“From this, we’ll be able to deliver unique new varieties which stand out from the crowd in today’s highly competitive market.”

Andrew Mackenzie, Founding Partner, Plant IP Partners says “we’re really pleased Plant IP Partners and VentureFruit are co-investing in this apple breeding programme. The aim is to develop varieties in New Zealand for global marketing. It’s great to be associated with a significant global player with an impressive record of introducing superior genetics, premium produce, and innovation for consumers.”