NZ: More misshapen cherries on the shelves this season

Cherry grower Kirsty Winder says that cheap cherries could be on the menu this Christmas, with one supermarket looking to expand their misshapen fruit sales to include the delectable summer treat. 

The availability of cut-price cherries will largely depend on the weather, with consumers likely to be in luck if there's a repeat of the heavy storms that battered cherry-growing regions in Marlborough and Otago last week.

Countdown launched its "Odd Bunch" range of unusually shaped fruit vegetables in February, with produce bought directly from growers that would otherwise go to waste.

Kirsty Winder's cherry crop is top quality once fully ripened, but her Simply Summer Fruit orchard focuses its cherries and other stone fruit on the domestic market.

The supermarket chain's merchandise manager Steve Sexton said it had sold 16 different types of fruit and veg in the Odd Bunch range, with carrots and kumara proving most popular.

"Our customers have responded really well to the fruit, as well as the lower prices."

Sexton expected "odd bunch" cherries would show up soon.

"The Odd Bunch is completely driven by what growers have available, so the range varies from week to week depending on what Mother Nature chooses to deliver us," Sexton said.

Foodstuffs NZ, which owns New World, Pak'n Save and Four Square, sells 500,000kg of cherries each year - with demand peaking at Christmas.

Antoinette Laird, Head of External Relations, said: "We are fortunate that our committed New Zealand growers really pull out the stops for our stores at Christmas and we have great supply."

The Odd Bunch takes miss happen fruit and vegetables in deals done directly with producers, and is on the lookout for cheap cherries this Chrismas.

"Cherries are truly the taste of Christmas and this year is looking good for another great season."

Cherry exporter Blair McClean, at Cherrybank, near Blenheim, said the cherry yield was expected to be down around 40 per cent this year. 

Last year New Zealand exported around $70m worth of cherries, it's especially popular during Chinese New Year. Varieties such as Sweetheart, Romance, Sonnet and Staccato must be premium fruit for growers to command top prices.


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