Niche market for novelty stonefruit

Niche market for novelty stonefruit
Brothers Kevin and Raymond Paulin, from Clyde Orchards export a third of their Flatto™ peaches and nectarines to Asia.

A small niche marketing opportunity has bloomed into a thriving family business for third-generation Central Otago orchardist brothers Kevin and Raymond Paulin.
Clyde Orchards bought the rights to grow and market the Flatto™ brand for flat peaches and nectarines ten years ago in conjunction with Waimea Nurseries.
They are bred from varieties the brothers had seen in France where they are known as “Sweetcap.”
Now some 20% of their 100 hectares of orchards is dedicated to growing the flat varieties which are very popular as a delicious and healthy snack.
Advanced breeding over the past 15 to 20 years has seen consistent quality in the Flatto™ fruit which are sweeter, better to eat and can be eaten quite firm, and Kevin says that while they are still a “bit of a novelty” in New Zealand, in Spain 20 to 30 percent of all peaches grown are flat varieties. Flat peaches are a rediscovered heirloom fruit which are well known in Chinese culture.
Peaches originated in China where they were treated with such reverence that they could be planted only within the royal precincts of the emperor.
The Flatto™ point o f difference is not only the shape – which makes them easier to eat and also to fit into a lunchbox – but the consistent quality.
Through promoting a good eating experience and tastiness associated with the flat fruit Clyde Orchards have developed a niche market with some one-third of their Flatto™ peaches and nectarines now exported to Asia.
Clyde Orchards recently started planting a new variety called Plattibelle which is white-fleshed, earlier ripening and even sweeter.
Whilst vineyards and also housing subdivisions have sprouted up around the traditional fruit-growing area where their grandfather first established the family orchard in 1921, the Paulin brothers decided to “stick with what they know best”, growing stonefruit.
Clyde Orchards supplies both local and international markets with cherries, apricots, nectarines and peaches.
They are also involved in a joint venture with Fresh Max Marketing to develop and grow a new early maturing cherry variety called Lani, which is being planted on 10 hectares of land they own in the Bannockburn district near Cromwell.
This will be the earliest export variety of cherries to come out of Central Otago where most of the export production has traditionally been post Christmas.
“Cherries are on a bit of a high at the moment, although the past summer which was more difficult than the previous two seasons may put a check on it,” Kevin says. Clyde Orchards processed 400 tonnes of cherries in the past season, close to its capacity.
Extraordinary heat early on in the summer with December temperatures in the 30’s, followed by one of the hottest Januaries on record – with 38 deg Celsius recorded in nearby Alexandra – had put pressure on plant and machinery.
Fruit quality wasn’t as good and the market was difficult due to Chinese New Year being too late and competing cherry exporters from Chile having a bumper crop, he said.
Meanwhile the apricots, which last year cropped from 8th January, had come in before Christmas. “It’s the first time ever we’ve had two crops of apricots in one year.”
Kevin believes apricots are still an important crop for the district, but more focus needs to be put growing better tasting, later cropping apricot varieties.
Clyde Orchards exports to various locations around the globe – as far afield as Russia, Europe and China. During the growing season the orchards and pack house employ over 100 staff making a considerable contribution to the local economy.
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