The persimmon season has just started in the United States, with harvest of the early season varieties underway. This year, the US market will see some New Zealand Fuyu available for the next few weeks. California Fuyu is not due for another week or two, and New Zealand has decided to try and fill the gap before the California Fuyu season begins.
In the meantime, so-called 'Chocolate' Fuyu is now available alongside the New Zealand Fuyu. "Our persimmons have been available since September 7," said Cole Firman of Coosemans LA. "New Zealand Fuyu is already here to fill a small gap between California seasons. Currently, there are only Chocolate persimmons available out of California, so New Zealand took a chance to send their Fuyu variety. We just received word that California Fuyu will possibly arrive from next week."
Once the California Fuyu start however, Firman said it will be difficult for the New Zealand fruit to compete and they will then retreat to their traditional markets. "New Zealand has now cancelled future shipments to us because of the imminent arrival of the California crop. So once we sell out, New Zealand is done and they will then redirect fruit to the Asian market," he noted.
Market starts higher, expected to gradually ease
With the early season persimmons now available, the market has started on the higher side. Prices are expected to ease once the production of California Fuyu begins and more volume enters the market and demand picks up.
"California is expected to have a good persimmon crop this year," Firman observed. "It's typical for pricing to start higher but it should come down sometime in October when more volume starts to come in. With all the summer heat still around, consumers are still getting used to seeing fall crops in stores."
The Chocolate persimmons are a separate variety to the Fuyu and Hachiya. Firman explained that the term is more of a marketing label to make it easier for consumers to grasp the name. "The variety is called 'Tsuru Noko'," he said. "It's the first variety available and eats very much like a Fuyu. The term 'Chocolate' persimmon is used because the traditional name can be more difficult to understand. California-grown Chocolate persimmon will be available until next month."
Consumers more familiar with persimmon
For a fruit that is considered exotic, suppliers note that persimmon is quite well established and is a fruit that more US consumers are familiar with compared with other exotics. Apart from the Chocolate persimmon, the other two main varieties are the Fuyu and Hachiya, with the latter needing a little more time to ripen before eating.
"Fuyu you can eat either like an apple when it's firm and hard, or allow it to soften by allowing more time for ripening, much like an avocado," Firman shared. "Persimmon are a great eating fruit and it's a good sign of fall when you see them in stores. Sales are picking up when you compare year over year. Consumers like to try new flavors and persimmons are an exotic fruit that more people are familiar with."
With offshore supply complementing the California season, Coosemans has almost year round availability of persimmons. Tray packs are common, although bulk can be often seen once steady volume from California is established. "California Fuyu and Hachiya are available from October through February before a short gap in March," Firman said. "Then Chile picks up sometime in April and we have fruit from there until July. Most customers are looking to buy them in tray packs now but when prices go down, they typically switch over to bulk. Persimmons from New Zealand are packed in a tray with a plastic over-wrap in order to stop movement of fruit in transit."