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Growing international interest
New Zealand Feijoa season in full swing
Native to the cool subtropical and tropical highlands of South America, the Feijoa was introduced to New Zealand in the 1920’s. The perfect climate and abundant bird life (required for pollination) have made the Feijoa one of the most popular New Zealand grown fruits, initially only grown as a garden shrub.
By cross breeding and a lot of research over the past 50 years, larger and sweeter varieties have been developed. From that, commercial orchards have emerged and have made the fruit very popular and widely available over the whole of New Zealand.
In the central North Island near Matamata Southern Belle Orchard has produced this beautiful fruit since the early 1980’s. Emigrated from the Netherlands, Frans and Tineke de Jong bought the Orchard in 2003 and have since developed this into a thriving business. Last year son Talbert and his partner Emily have joined, as they all share a passion for this wonderful fruit with its exotic and aromatic taste.
“The egg-shape and green colour don’t make a Feijoa look very special, and that could be part of why it is not a familiar fruit worldwide yet. But as soon as you cut one in half and get the aroma and see the clover like jelly section, you know there is a lot more to it!” says Frans. Once a Feijoa is ripe (slightly soft) it can be eaten fresh like a Kiwi Fruit, by just scooping out the flesh. There are also many NZ recipes using the Feijoa in desserts, jams and sauces – see www.feijoa.org.nz for an array of these. A big NZ favourite is the Feijoa Smoothie. The high levels of a group of antioxidants called flavonoids have also caught the interest of pharmaceutical companies, because of the anti-inflammatory and anti-tumour properties these might have.
The de Jongs have made it their mission to make the world aware of this wonderful fruit and have made a lot of effort to develop export markets, not only for their own fruit but also for the members of the New Zealand Feijoa Growers Association. The coming years will be crucial in developing joint marketing strategies, possibly in conjunction with Australian growers, as interest is on the increase there as well. However, it will be important to maintain good quality control of the exported Feijoas while increasing the production.
For more information:
Frans de Jong
Southern Belle Orchard
Tel: +64 7 888 6412
The New Zealand Feijoa Growers website: www.feijoa.org.nz/
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