Kiwifruit originate in the Chang Kiang Valley of China. This fruit is also known as the Chinese gooseberry.
While kiwifruit is Asian in origin, it took a rather circuitous route to becoming a fruit grown and sold around the world. New Zealand, the second largest producer of kiwifruit, took to this little fuzzy fruit early in the 20th century while it was still known as the Chinese gooseberry. The gooseberry quickly grew in popularity with New Zealanders, but was still limited worldwide.
By 1962, a fruit dealer in California started importing gooseberries for sale as the request of a customer. To help make these fruits more appealing to customers, the dealer re-branded them as kiwifruit, in honor, of their small, oval shape which reminded him of the New Zealand kiwi bird. New Zealand farmers soon adopted the new name of the fruit, as kiwifruit started increasing in popularity in the United States. Now all fruit from the genus, Actinidia, grown commercially are referred to as kiwifruit.
In 2012, Italy was the number one producer of kiwifruit in the world. They produced 384,844 tons of the fruit, with New Zealand coming a close second at 376,400 tons of kiwifruit that same year.