Locally grown persimmons are about to hit markets across New Zealand, and growers are praising the fact the fruit has become an ‘on-trend’ item.

Ian Turk, manager of the New Zealand Persimmon Industry Council, said local growing operations have gone from strength to strength as New Zealanders discover the versatility of the colourful honey-sweet treat.

“Initially persimmons were grown commercially for export markets, Japan in particular, but these days a much larger volume of fruit is sold domestically,” explained Turk.

“We’re excited to have seen an increase of 20 per cent in just two years in the New Zealand market.”

Around 12,500 tonnes of New Zealand grown persimmons are exported each year. Estimated to be worth NZ$10m, exports will reach Australia, South-East Asia, Japan, the US and China in 2021.

“We’ve had an excellent season this year and are recovering well from the impact of a tough 2020 season,” outlined Turk.

“The combined issues of a Covid-19 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,” he added.

Carmel Ireland, 5+ A Day project manager, said now is the perfect time to enjoy persimmons.

“New Zealand persimmons are ripe when crisp and are so versatile. They can be eaten like an apple as the perfect on-the-go snack or used in a variety of dishes like salads, salsas, cheese boards and more,” said Ireland.

“Use them to bring a seasonal change to your salads or just add them to your breakfast, they pair beautifully with other autumn favourites such as apples, pears, cinnamon and citrus.