Kiwifruit, a hot favourite among Bengalureans

Kiwifruit, a hot favourite among Bengalureans
Fifteen years ago, few knew about kiwifruits, but today fast becoming a favoured treat here. The small, furry brown fruits with sweet gold or green flesh are sourced from New Zealand. Zespri, the New Zealand kiwifruit seller, says this year 1.5 million trays of green kiwifruit and 200,000 trays of gold kiwifruit will flood the country during the season set to start mid-May. That’s around 58 million fruits.

Health may be the key reason for the rapid rise in consumption. Kiwifruits are a great source of vitamin C, folate, potassium and antioxidants.

Zespri India’s marketing manager Ritesh Bhimani says green kiwifruits were introduced to India a little over 10 years ago, and gold kiwifruits imported for the first time last year.

He says the biggest challenge has been educating the public on how to incorporate the fruit into their Indian-style diet.

Mohammed Idrees Choudhary from Bengaluru was one of the first to sell kiwifruit in India. After he tasted the fruit and heard about its nutritional benefits 12 years ago, he knew he had to stock the fruit at his store in Russell Market, Shivajinagar. “Kiwi is such a powerful fruit. God has given us a very good fruit filled with fibre,” he said. “I thought it is so good we must make people aware.”

Sales were slow to begin with, and his stores only sold 3 trays a day. But turnover improved soon, and now Choudhary sells 130 trays or 400 kg a day.

Once a month he gives away free samples of the fruit, which usually costs Rs 40 for one. To draw attention to the golden variety, Zespri drafted Bollywood actress Kalki Koechlin and celebrity chef Ranveer Brar to create awareness. Ranveer travelled the country doing cooking demonstrations in the main cities, showing people how to incorporate the fruit into Indian cuisine.

In New Zealand, the fruits are sold in giant supermarkets, but in India 90 per cent of the fruit consumed is sold by street-side vendors. However, in Mumbai, Zespri was able to tap into the unique distribution network of dabbawalas.

 It decided to use them to get people to try the golden kiwifruit at their own convenience. The fruits were packed in yellow punnets at the cool store and then delivered to households through the dabbawalas.

Green kiwifruit will be sold in 15 cities across India while both the green and gold varieties will only be sold in Mumbai, Hyderabad, Bengaluru and New Delhi. Last season, Zespri sold 1.2 million trays of the green and 100,000 of the gold varieties. It expects the number to more than double over the next five years.

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