Persimmons are a relatively new commercial crop for New Zealand. In 1986 only 20 tonnes or 5000 trays were exported. Today there are 250 hectares of orchards and total production is estimated at 2,250 tonnes - from this approximately 60% of production is exported to a wide range of countries.
Fuyu is the main variety grown and exported from New Zealand which is a non-astringent variety which means it can be eaten while it is still crisp. Persimmons are increasingly recognised for their high Vitamin C content.
The industry is comprised of around 50 persimmon growers, 16 packhouses and 7 exporters. The main growing areas are Gisborne (almost one third of production) and North and South Auckland. Other growing regions include Northland, Waikato, Bay of Plenty and the Hawke’s Bay. The Persimmon Industry Council Inc is the representative body of the industry.
Thailand, Australia, Malaysia, and Singapore are the most important markets for persimmons with good growth shown in the Australian market in recent years owing in part to a pre clearance programme. The Thai market however is in a period of decline. Fruit size and local conditions impacts on the volumes of fruit sent to individual markets each year.
Tariff costs for the New Zealand persimmon industry are not insignificant and are particularly high for Taiwan and Malaysia. The dynamics of quota systems in these markets also pose challenges often resulting in oversupply and reduced prices. Free Trade Agreements may support the exports of persimmons into South East Asian markets in the next few years. China and the USA may represent important new markets if regulatory and other constraints can be resolved.
Plant & Food Research works closely with the Persimmon Industry across a range of research areas including pest and disease and post harvest management. 'Green&Gold’ for persimmons is an integrated method of managing pests and disease that encourages the use of monitoring and minimises the use of chemical controls – this is particularly important for reducing previous industry reliance on two main insecticides.