Kiwis are being urged to make the most of an influx of passionfruit that will hit supermarket shelves just in time for Valentine’s Day (14 February) as the soaring cost of airfreight has limited export opportunities for growers.

Normally 70 per cent of New Zealand’s passionfruit crop is exported to the United States. But the cost of air freight has tripled in the wake of the coronavirus pandemic (Covid-19). Greater competition in the US market means most of this summer’s crop will instead be sold domestically.

Charitable trust, 5+A Day has launched a Valentine’s Day campaign called ‘would you be my Passiontine?’ to help support New Zealand’s passionfruit growers. Carmel Ireland, 5+ A Day project manager, says eating fruit and vegetables that are in season is always best for consumers’ health.

Rebekah Vlaanderen, president of NZ Passionfruit Growers Association, says passionfruit grows really well in subtropical climates like Northland, Bay of Plenty and Nelson.

“About 50 commercial growers produce 120 tonnes a season, and the bulk of that supply is available between February and April,” she said.

“This year there will be a lot more passionfruit for sale on the domestic market so we’re working closely with wholesalers and encouraging consumers to try this delicious fruit if they haven’t before.”