Zespri, New Zealand’s kiwifruit marketing arm, plans to allocate an additional 400 hectares (about 1,000 acres) of its SunGold variety for export license in anticipation of record-breaking production this year. 
 
The Zespri board of directors said an additional 1,000 acres of the SunGold variety’s license will be released each year from 2017-19, according to a news release. About 4,600 hectares are currently under license in New Zealand, according to industry estimates.
 
Peter McBride, Zespri chairman, said the decision to release more SunGolds for export was made in response to “overwhelming global demand” for the variety.
 
“At today’s returns for SunGold, should the full 1,600 hectares (4,000 acres) be released, it will mean more than $200 million in export revenue to New Zealand,” McBride said in the release.
 
Before the decision to release more licenses was made, SunGold was on track to earn $1 billion in sales revenue by 2017, McBride said.
 
Lain Jager, Zespri’s chief executive, said the board’s confidence in the variety comes from SunGold’s “excellent performance” across Zespri’s 56 international markets the past two years, according to the release.
 
SunGold volumes are on pace to reach 50 million trays in 2018, about double last year’s output, according to industry estimates. Japan and China are the largest export markets for New Zealand’s kiwifruit, according to industry reports.