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While summer may still be months away, North Americans can enjoy a taste of its sweetness much earlier.

Chilean Summerkiwi, a naturally early-harvested, deep-green kiwifruit, became available the third week in March from The Oppenheimer Group.

"Summerkiwi aligns with Oppenheimer's commitment to marketing kiwifruit that delivers a consistently great-eating experience," Steve Woodyear-Smith, kiwifruit category director for the Vancouver, BC-based international produce marketer and distributor, said in a March 22 press release. "The fruit is uniquesummerkiwi because its Brix can reach the high teens, though its flavor is quite sweet from 12.5 on. Summerkiwi's ripening curve is more like that of a gold kiwifruit than a green. It ripens quickly then maintains good eating quality for several days at room temperature."

Oppenheimer is engaging retailers and consumers with the key message that Summerkiwi is "sweet to the core."

"It has a softer center than most green kiwifruit - some call its core a tender heart - making it a juicy, refreshing snack that is easy to spoon out and enjoy," Mr. Woodyear-Smith added in the press release. "Sweet and easy to manage, Summerkiwi is a great choice for kids."

 

Summerkiwi also boasts the same high nutrient density as other green kiwifruit, Mr. Woodyear-Smith said, noting that the fruit can be distinguished from others at retail because it is slightly longer and more ovate than a typical green kiwifruit, although it has the familiar fuzzy skin.

In addition, the Summerkiwi name and playful kiwi character on the label will alert consumers that this kiwifruit is different.

Summerkiwi originated in Italy and has been available in the North American market in limited volumes for two years. It is packed to a consistent standard under the Summerkiwi brand in Italy and in Chile.

"Summerkiwi is a perfect fit for Oppenheimer," Mr. Woodyear-Smith added in the press release. "Roughly one in four kiwifruit marketed in the United States and Canada is produced by our grower family. Our customers look in our direction for the latest innovations and opportunities to build the category. Summerkiwi aligns with our existing programs and gives our retail partners a new option to consider."

Mr. Woodyear-Smith also noted that Summerkiwi dovetails with the work being done by the Chilean Kiwi Committee, formed in 2009 with an objective of improving the condition and quality of all kiwifruit the country produces and exports. The committee has developed minimum Brix standards and a testing regimen to assure green kiwifruit from Chile will consistently ripen to an enjoyable sweetness.

Like summer itself, Chilean Summerkiwi season is brief. For the next six weeks, Oppenheimer is offering Summerkiwi in a full range of sizes, labeled with GS1 barcodes and sold in nine-kilogram volume fill packs and trays.

Oppenheimer plans to support this special fruit through ads, demos, public relations activity and social media outreach.