It is the peak season for persimmons in California at the moment and overall volume is good. Of the varieties, Hachiya volume is a little lighter due to weather conditions earlier this year. But suppliers say that persimmon numbers are strong enough for sufficient supply and will be so for several more weeks.
"We are now in the peak of our persimmon season," said George Matoian of Visalia Produce Sales. "The harvest typically starts in the second or third week of September, with the season extending through towards the end of November. Both Fuyu and Hachiya are in production right now. Hachiya might come in a bit lighter this year due to the freezes we had in California in spring. However, there is still plenty of fruit for retail promotions."
Two main varieties
As Matoian mentioned, there are two main varieties in season now - the Fuyu and the Hachiya. He explained that Fuyu is suitable to be eaten straight away, like an apple. Hachiya on the other hand, usually requires some preparation before the full flavors can be enjoyed.
"Fuyu can be eaten firm, without preparation," shared Matoian. "Sometimes, people also like to slice it and put it in salads. Hachiya is best used in cooking, a process which helps ripen and soften the fruit and bring out the sugars. It can be used for baking bread and other sweet dishes."
Market busy this time of year
Persimmon is considered a strong symbol of fall, with the fruit featuring heavily in numerous fall promotions at the consumer level. Thanksgiving is the time of year when these promotions reach their peak, in parallel with the peak volume coming out of the fields. The market can expect to see good movement for the next four weeks, although right now prices are still stable.
"Consumers strongly associate persimmons with fall and this is when we see the biggest movement from the dominant California season," Matoian observed. "The peak promotion time is from now until December. The market is stable at the moment, with prices in the range of $14 - $16 for a one layer tray."
Matoian added that packaging options are also quite stable, indicating that retailers are satisfied with what is currently available. "The one layer tray is the most traditional packaging option for persimmons," he said. "We also do a 25lb volume fill box, along with club packs with six or eight pieces of fruit for the club stores."