Wakefield Raspberry

A New Zealand Research Commercialisation Success Story

Global demand for Wake®Field raspberry drives further investment

Wakefield Raspberry Production line
(photo: Plant & Food Research)

The raspberry variety with a unique licensing model is now delivering significant returns.

‘Wakefield’ (marketed as Wake®Field) is a red raspberry cultivar which boasts improved disease resistance and firm fruit perfect for machine harvest, with increased levels of compounds good for health. Developed by Plant & Food Research, it has many benefits over other commercially grown raspberry varieties.

In 2014 Wake®Field launched into the Pacific Northwest of North America – the world’s highest value process raspberry industry – where it quickly became the most sought-after new raspberry variety, making up 15% of all process raspberries planted in the region.

It was early support from KiwiNet PreSeed funding that allowed the team to highlight the benefits of Wakefield Raspberry, increasing investor confidence and accelerating the timeframe, scale, and ultimate success of the product’s launch.

Wakefield Raspberry Production line
(photo: Plant & Food Research)

In the first year Wake®Field plants sold out in the Pacific NorthWest, and saw orders exceed 1 million units for the following year.

However, to generate revenues that justified a plant breeding programme and represented a fair benefit to investors, Plant & Food Research had to develop a unique commercialisation model. Its model, based on direct-to-grower licences with an annual area-based licence fee, enabled grower, nursery, and Plant & Food Research to share in the significant commercial success of the variety.

Wake®Field is seeing increasing interest from growers wanting to meet demand for a sustainable, profitable, locally-grown product. It is now commercially planted in Australia and New Zealand, and evaluation is underway in Chile. In 2015, trials were supported by an AGMARDT grant, to facilitate the adoption of Wake®Field’s international best practice growing techniques in New Zealand. And in 2019, an agent was appointed for the commercialisation of Wake®Field in Europe.

Its success has also enabled further research investment by Plant & Food Research, including an ongoing raspberry breeding programme in the US and a joint venture company Pacific Berries LLC. Pacific Berries has since released a second complementary variety, ‘NN08002’, marketed as Wake®Haven. Wake®Field is now underpinned by a robust intellectual property strategy including a US Plant Patent, Plant Variety Rights (in 15 countries), and registered trademark.

Plant & Food Research together with Pacific Berries have continued to invest and build on the initial KiwiNet PreSeed project, supporting ongoing success for investors and the Wake® family of varieties, and ultimately success for New Zealand.

Plant & Food Research