A giant mandarin is the newest food trend to hit supermarket shelves in New Zealand.

After wild success in the United States and Australia, Kiwis can now enjoy Sumo Citrus mandarins for the first time - but be quick, they appear to be selling out already.

The fruit combines the best of the easy-to-peel mandarin with the juiciness, sweetness and size of an orange. And what's more, they are seedless.

They are already proving popular in Auckland with New World Albany selling out of their week's allocation within an hour yesterday, despite the fist-sized fruit going for $2.98 each at the supermarket.

"Our customers are absolutely enjoying them - the team at New World Albany report they are indeed flying out the door," said Foodstuffs head of external relations Antoinette Laird.

After 30 years of hard work to develop Sumo Citrus mandarins in Japan, the fruit has become a prized citrus in Japan and Korea.

Following the Japanese tradition of offering the best fruit as a gift, Sumo Citrus mandarins sell for up to US$8 ($11) each in Tokyo gift shops, according to the company's American website.

So, the Weekend Herald put Sumos to the test.

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"They look like actual sumo wrestlers," one journalist exclaimed, referring to the fruit's distinctive shape, with a rounded body and protruding bump that looks like a head.

The next thing that struck us was the overwhelming smell - definitely citrus but with a hint of peach that had us rushing to peel it. Don't be put off by the tough, thick skin; it peels off effortlessly.

And that smell was reflected in the flavour - juicy, sweet and strangely peachy.



Freshmax New Zealand imports category manager Duncan Lilley said it was great to see the Australian-grown product arrive in New Zealand.

"The flavour is incredible and to see the first store... sell out of a week's stock within an hour is fantastic news. We look forward to the coming weeks."

Sumo Citrus mandarins will be available for a few weeks at a number of New World supermarkets throughout Auckland and Pak'n Save in Albany.

Keep an eye on the Sumo Citrus Australia Facebook page for stock updates and sampling session info.