New season kumara, apples and pears back in good supply

New season kumara, apples and pears back in good supply

New season red, orange and gold kūmara are about to hit supermarket shelves in good supply, after being all but absent from many Kiwi dinner plates over the last few months.

Around 97% of New Zealand kūmara are grown in Northland due to its warm and rich soil, and Foodstuffs North Island Head of Produce and Butchery Brigit Corson says last year’s cyclone impacted crops before most of it could be harvested.

“Kūmara are only harvested once a year between February and June and then placed in cool storage to maintain supply for the rest of the year.  The cyclone essentially wiped out a huge part of the country’s supply at a crucial time, and it’s taken 12 months to be able to build that back up again,” she says.

Brigit says that growers have faced a tough reality over the past year and hopes New Zealanders will show their support and make the most of the new season kūmara.

“Many of our customers have told us how they’ve missed having a regular supply of kūmara and we hope they’ll get behind our growers over the coming weeks, perhaps making a nice kūmara salad as we enjoy the last weeks of summer,” she says.

“As the season reaches its peak over the coming months and produce is in abundance, that’s when we’ll start to see great value as well.” 

General Manager at Delta Produce Locky Wilson, the largest supplier of kūmara for Foodstuffs North Island and Foodstuffs South Island stores says after the cyclone they lost around 60% of their kūmara supply, which either didn’t yield or were rotten.

“Working for more than 25 years in this industry, I’ve never seen anything like it. We had to scale back our operations just to see us through this last year and some growers were impacted more badly than others, so we concentrated on how we could help see them through to be able to carry on into the future,” he says.

“The biggest concern was ensuring all growers had sufficient seed, and thankfully we managed to get there. We’ve had huge hopes that this year’s crop would be good and thanks to the warm weather we’ve had, the early season kūmara is the best shape and taste I’ve ever seen, so we’re hopefully looking at a good season ahead.”  

Stats NZ latest Food Price Index (FPI) has reported that many fresh food favourites like tomatoes and avocados have decreased in price, some by over 20% – which Brigit puts down to bumper produce supply at the right time of year.

“There’s real benefits to shopping seasonally if you’re looking for value right now, because the prices of produce and meat fluctuate depending on the level of supply. 

“So when something’s in season and in abundance because of a bumper crop, the prices tend to be lower,” she says.

Foodstuffs North Island Head of Produce and Butchery Brigit Corson

Brigit’s produce picks 

Warmer temperatures are having an impact on the seasonality of produce this year, with new season produce like kūmara, apples, and Packham Pears in good supply. 

Watermelon has also had a bumper season due to the warmer weather, which are available for around $6 or $7 each, so Brigit suggests that customers make use of the last of the season’s watermelons as well as end-of-season blueberries.

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