Rights: The University of Waikato Published 9 June 2011 Download

New apple varieties developed by Plant & Food Research are commercialised by joint venture company Prevar. Commercialising a new apple involves distributing the product around the world and takes many years. Here, Prevar’s CEO Brett Ennis explains the stages and timeframe involved.

Teaching points

  • Discuss the importance of each stage to successful commercialisation and the timeframe involved at each stage.
  • Find out about AIGN and their role in commercialising new apple and pear varieties on the Prevar website.

Questions to consider

  • Why does a new apple need to be distributed to other countries before it is commercialised?
  • Why does the quarantine stage take such a long time and why does it vary in different countries.
  • What is meant by critical mass?

Useful links

Find out more about Prevar’s work and shareholders on the Prevar website.


Brett Ennis (Prevar)
Okay, when we commercialise a new apple variety, we are looking first of all to have that product distributed around the world, to get a complimentary 12 month a year programme and to achieve critical mass to supply the marketplace. And what we need to do is to distribute that variety from New Zealand through to the AIGN members in each of their territories.

Now for biosecurity reasons, a new variety has to come into a country and be free of disease and pests and so on, so it moves through a quarantine stage which typically takes 1 to 2 years. Each country has its own timeframe and its own protocol associated with quarantine. After it comes out of quarantine – it might come out as a budwood stick or a tree – it has to be propagated in 1 of the AIGN member nurseries – that might take a couple of years – and then it will move through various stages of testing.

It might go through early stage testing maybe where there is 5 or 10 trees on a number of sites. Then it might move to what is called a stage 2 testing where we might have between 50 and 100 trees per site, chosen across the territory to represent interest and environment. It’s very important that we understand the environmental interaction on colour and flavour development and performance of a variety.

So that whole timeframe from the time it leaves the Plant & Food breeding programme might take anywhere between 6 to 8 years before we are at a stage where we have good information about the performance of the variety and we can start talking to potential investors, that’s growers and marketers who might wish to license the right to grow, market and sell that variety, so that in itself is quite a long timeframe.