The fruit has a striking red centre, exotic flavour and a creamy texture. Branded as new EnzaRed kiwifruit, this is the first major change to the fruit since the gold kiwi more than a decade ago.
The launch is set against a backdrop of recriminations between Turners & Growers -- which created the kiwifruit brand in 1959 -- and Zespri, the marketing body for kiwifruit growers in New Zealand.
Zespri director corporate and grower services Carol Ward was quoted by Fairfax media's Stuff.co.nz as saying that the "struggling" Turners & Growers does its red fruit launch "at its own risk and of even more concern at the risk of any participating growers".
Turners & Growers, led by Guinness Peat Group's Tony Gibbs, is campaigning through the court and government to abolish the regulations that give Zespri its dominant and protected export status.
Turners & Growers created the kiwifruit brand in 1959, when it was establishing the export market for New Zealand-grown Chinese gooseberries in the US.
The NZ Herald quoted Turners & Growers chief executive Jeff Wesley saying that the company "wanted to develop different tastes to reach a wider market and different colours for more visual appeal".
Turners & Growers estimates the potential market for the red kiwi as similar to that of its gold cousin, which earns more than $250 million annually.
China is now in its third season of commercial production of ENZARed. Strong domestic demand there has reduced export numbers for the fruit.
Turners & Growers owns the rights to the new red fruit, allowing the company to set up growing hubs in both the Northern and Southern hemispheres, ensuring year-round production, to meet the demands of the world's supermarkets.
The company has several new varieties developed and tested for production and export from New Zealand.
Turners & Growers has began a billboard campaign to highlight the need for a review of the decade-old Kiwifruit Export Regulations which prevent them and other owners of new kiwifruit varieties from selling their fruit overseas.
Turners & Growers wants the right to be able to export, without restriction, its own kiwifruit varieties internationally.
The Kiwifruit Regulations 1999 prevent owners of kiwifruit varieties, other than monopoly kiwifruit marketer Zespri, from exporting kiwifruit outside New Zealand and Australia.