Kiwis' growing appetite for persimmon sees jump in local market

Persimmons can be found in supermarkets from May to June.
Persimmons can be found in supermarkets from May to June. Photo credit: Getty

With persimmons about to hit shelves around the country, the industry is hoping this year will be less challenging than 2020.

Like many other sectors, the COVID-19 pandemic brought a number of difficulties for persimmon growers. But now, after an "excellent" harvest season, Ian Turk, manager of the New Zealand Persimmon Industry Council, says there is optimism about the coming year.

"We've had an excellent season this year and are recovering well from the impact of a tough 2020 season," Turk said on Monday.

"The combined issues of a COVID lockdown two weeks before harvest, lengthy drought conditions and air freight costs that quadrupled due to the pandemic meant some significant challenges. We're heading into the 2021 season with greater confidence – not quite back to normal, but nearly there."

A growing appetite by Kiwis for persimmon has seen the domestic market for the fruit grow significantly over the past two years.

Although originally grown commercially just for the export market - where they were mainly bound for Japan - these days a much larger proportion of the country's persimmons stay in New Zealand,

Turk says the domestic persimmon market has grown 20 percent in the past two years as New Zealanders' taste for the sweet berry increases.

Persimmons have been grown in New Zealand since the 1870s, mainly around the Gisborne and Auckland regions, and can be found in supermarkets from May to June.

As well as being sent to Japan, a total of 12,500 tonnes of the fruit will also be exported to Australia, South-East Asia, the United States and China this year, at a value of $10 million.