About SNZI

SNZI - Our Story

In the 1960s Don Skelton ("the breeder") purchased 100 acres in the Bay of Plenty and at that time kiwifruit was by regulation only allowed to be picked after May 1. Don, ever the renegade decided to try and breed EARLY SEASON maturing fruit.

The first acceptable varieties were "Skelton" and "Merle" which flowered earlier than Hayward and matured earlier. 

In 1980 Don bought properties at Waiuku and extended the breeding operation. 

In the 1990's the Skelton was exported - sold well, but had to be handpicked as it did not fit existing machinery. 

A Chinese market gardener brought back seeds from China (less than a teaspoon full). The chinese seeds ended up with 10 plants. These varieties were developed to span the season.

During this period Don sold a couple of varieties to:

  • Turners and Growers including one named ENZA Gold 
  • KIWIKISS to Bostock; and
  • And the first gold used to open up the Asian markets. 

Over nearly 40 years Don cross bred over 40 different varieties and is regarded as one of the preeminent kiwifruit breeders. Being deliberately independent from the NZ government controlled and funded Zespri Don has bred more kiwifruit varieties than any other New Zealander.

Cross Seeds (Confidential and Commercially Sensitive)

All from one male (KZ71) with 12 existing gold varieties creating  12 new gold varieties and 1 red. These are available as part of any arrangement and provide the opportunity to continue the successful kiwifruit variety development.

Sino-NZ Innovation Limited (“SNZI”)

On January 1st 2018 SNZI acquired the business which at that time included the worldwide rights of some 42 Skelton Varieties. During the subsequent year a technical analysis was carried out and 14 varieties were eliminated as inappropriate for further development.

During due diligence in 2017 and on acquisition, it became apparent that there was considerable dissatisfaction with the RSA local Agent and previous NZ licensees. A strategic review came up with two options: spend considerable time in RSA and try to sort out various issues or identify a group of growers who with local PVR ownership could work with SNZI in advancing both our investments.

I chose the second option and since selling the RSA territorial rights I have been delighted with how the relationship has developed and the success Skelton SA has achieved. The relationship allows SNZI to access technical knowledge built up over the past ten years which is available (if required) when new markets are developed.

As at the end of their 2021 season they have 350 ha under license, with results as follows:

  • Export volumes up 89% from previous year.
  • Early Growers receiving FOB pricing up to US$4/kg
  • H14: very good response from first export to Singapore, Spain, and UK.
  • The 1ha trial block produced 8 tones (after 18 months) and expected 20,000 tones in the current year. Fruit is early with generous yields combined with low chill requirements which opens up areas previously thought marginal for kiwifruit.

 In 2022, Skelton South Africa Limited was appointed SNZI's agent for all varieties (except the Varieties for Tomorrow) for Namibia, Swaziland and Zimbabwe. They are currently applying for Plant Variety Rights (in SNZI’s name) for H14. This arrangement reflects the strong relationship between SNZI and Skelton South Africa which has the potential to begin a breeding programme for future variety development.

2018 to 2022 

  • Conducted a strategic review of all the acquired varieties;
  • Sold the South African rights to a consortium of six growers;
  • Appointed an ex Zespri European manger as an Agent (for four varieties) in association with two Italian kiwifruit distributors wanting to develop gold kiwifruit;
  • Commenced trials in Italy for the four varieties;
  • Completed trials in Peru, and negotiating commercial contracts;
  • Commenced further trials in Peru with a leading South American company;
  • Imported plant material into South Korea;
  • Skelton South Africa rebranded to Sunveld Kiwifruit,
  • Appointed Skelton South Africa as Agents for Zimbabwe, Swaziland and Namibia; 
  • Arranged our “hot” new variety (H14) to be sent to USA Quarantine;
  • Applied for USA patent for H14
  • Prepared business for sale.

Meet our Team

Allan Rutledge

Allan has over 30 years of experience in business development, product management and management of large marketing development teams in both the private and public sector.

Prior to the founding of Sino-NZ Innovation Allan was a partner in Alternate Instinct, an internet marketing partnership, chaired an IT development project, a Director of City Enterprises at Waitakere City Council, co-founded FM radio in NZ, financial controller and company secretary of Radio Hauraki and started the first contract accounting business in NZ.

Calvin Pei

Calvin is a distinguished Business Strategist with nearly two decades’ expertise in areas of Industries Planning / Estate Planning / City Planning, Business Model / Profit Mode Innovation, SCM / BPR, Sales Management / Integrated Marketing, and e-Commerce (B2B2C) within the Greater China region.

He is a regular Guest Host and Speaker of some major local and overseas industrial summits and commercial talks such as the “China Branding Communication Summit”, “China Luxury Retailing Summit”, “RBS Asian Consumers Summit”, “Samsung Securities - Asian Advantages Global Talks Series”

Calvin is a major pioneer, explorer and practitioner of China e-Commerce and Big-Data industries as well as a famous Lecture Professor on some local leading MBA/Entrepreneurship courses across China.