Passionfruit – a survival story –

The 2023 passionfruit crop has survived the devastation of Cyclone Gabrielle with the country’s small team of commercial growers based in sub-tropical areas such as Northland, the Bay of Plenty and Taranaki pleased to deliver the seasonal delights to consumers.

Passionfruit is a labor-intensive crop that requires careful management throughout the growing season.

Debbie Baxter, President of the New Zealand Passionfruit Growers Association, says this season has been a particularly challenging one for growers.

“Like many other growers, we faced difficult weather conditions throughout the season. Many of our growers were affected by the severe frost in October and the vines have taken some time to bounce back from that,” he says.

“While we haven’t lost a large amount of fruit, the lack of sunshine hours this summer has delayed production by as much as four weeks in certain areas.”

Baxter notes that get passionfruit to customers is a delicate balance that requires a lot of care and expense.

“Growing passion fruit is a real labor of love. High costs are incurred from pruning and daily picking for months. Passionfruit vines are prone to disease, and, despite careful management, we have a high rate of replacement for plants that have died. In the past year alone, some of our growers lost 100 percent of their vines, while others left the industry altogether,” says Baxter.

Plant & Food Research Principal Scientist and 5+ A Day Charitable Trust spokesperson, Dr. Carolyn Lister says that passionfruit provides significant nutritional value for their size.

“The cost of two passionfruit equals to a cup of coffee – but at the same price, passionfruit delivers the nutritional benefits of dietary fiber to keep your gut healthy, and powerful antioxidants such as vitamins C and E to support your immune system. Plus, their intense sweet and tangy flavor is unbeatable,” she says.

5+ A Day suggests that passionfruit is perfectly scooped out and eaten as is or added to a wide range of sweet and savory dishes.

Passionfruit can add a tropical twist to salads. Add passionfruit pulp to a dressing for a classic green salad or mix the pulp with chunks of cucumber and peach, add baby spinach and cherry tomatoes and drizzle it with chilli and lemon for a deliciously sweet and spicy combination.

Make the most of this season’s passionfruit which are in stores from March through to September by trying out some of the tasty recipes on the 5+ A Day website, www.5aday.co.nz, or by following on social media channels for more great how to use this tropical flavor bomb.

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