You can make a living out of kiwiberries but Te Puna orchardist Ron McLean says there is no fortune to be made.
It was not the sort of crop people would want to leap into as it was fairly expensive to grow, he said.
"You can get a living off it if you get a good season. But the pruning bills are high and the picking bill is huge because it's such a labour-intensive crop."
The kiwiberry harvest was about to start in the Bay of Plenty and McLean said he hoped for a yield of 3000 to 4000 trays, which were expected to fetch $28 each. The small, gooseberry-sized green fruit were sweet, hairless and looked like a kiwifruit when cut in half.
When Mr McLean bought his property in 2007 he knew nothing about kiwiberries. But he took the gamble because the crop was already established with structures and irrigation.
"I had never heard of them before so it was trial and error," he said.
"Interesting" was how McLean described his venture.
"I have definitely learned a lot. Kiwiberries are a hardy plant and grow like you wouldn't believe so you're forever pruning them. They take off overnight. I think they went as good as gold in the drought last year."
Kiwi Produce owner Geoff Oliver said last year the firm packed 43,000 export kiwiberry trays that were destined for 15 markets, including Australia, Asia, America and Europe.
The company had about 20 growers on its books and, although he predicted kiwiberries would increase in popularity it was not a super-crop of the future.
"They are difficult to grow and expensive to harvest and pack because you are picking such a small fruit.
"The harvest through to sale needs to be managed carefully as well because they have such a short shelf life, which is similar to raspberries and strawberries." Often growers give up because of poor returns or yields.
"They need to be grown professionally for export," Oliver said. "The product is quite expensive so it's not an everyday purchase. A punnet can cost $5 to $6 so it doesn't meet everyone's budget." But kiwiberries had potential as a niche market because of its sweet taste, he said.