Avo-mania is hitting the world and there is no sign it will slow down, says Steve Trickett, AVOCO marketing and communications manager. Dubbed ‘green gold’ by some, avocados are earning premiums for New Zealand exporters as demand continues to exceed supply.
The recent opening of the Chinese market to New Zealand will continue to add fuel to the ﬁre and Steve says it is a case of exporting modest volumes initially to China to test the market, with the aim being to broaden market options for growers and future prooﬁng the industry for the projected increases in harvest volumes. AVOCO plans to target the high-end niche retail market in China.
“It’s a market that has got hungry for avocados very quickly as it’s only been over the last ﬁve years that Chinese consumers have started to become familiar with avocados,” says Steve.
“From imports of around 100,000 trays ﬁve years ago, with supply coming from Chile, Mexico and Peru, it has now increased to two and a half to three million trays and growing exponentially,” he says.
The New Zealand Avocado Company Limited (AVOCO) was formed in 2013 when Southern Produce and Primor Produce joined forces to create what has now become a signiﬁcant grower led movement, enjoying over 60% share of total industry crop each season.
AVOCO was born after New Zealand avocado growers realised the need for critical mass to compete in the Australian market – the most signiﬁcant market for New Zealand growers where around 80% of export fruit is destined in most years.
Steve expects this trend to continue with the remainder destined for Asian countries, with South Korea now the biggest Asian market, overtaking Japan last season.
“As with other primary produce coming from here, consumers, particularly in Asia, have a favourable view of New Zealand as a supply origin of avocados.”
explains Steve. He says the biggest problem facing the New Zealand industry is to reliably meet the huge market demand for avocados.
A large crop one year followed by a lighter crop the next makes consistent volume supply challenging.
Research and increased focus on improved husbandry in areas such as canopy management and new cultivars more suited to New Zealand conditions is seeing improvement.
AVOCO works exclusively with six packhouses – four in the Bay of Plenty, one in Whangarei and one in the Far North. Grower voice is important, and the AVOCO Grower Relations Committee meets regularly to discuss issues affecting the grower base, which currently numbers around 700.
The AVOCO partnership exports to emerging markets in Asia under the AVANZA brand, which has helped to build critical relationships with the best selection of customers in each target market.
Operating as a joint entity has helped to create a commercial force that has the scale to manage harvest volumes and fruit ﬂow better to market than ever before, says Steve. “We can maximise returns to growers more effectively than our competitors.
“From the start, our aim was to generate better results for our industry through working together, with the latest record OGR’s just paid to growers testimony to this,” he says. Around 1000 new hectares of avocados are going into the ground currently, mainly in Northland.
It takes four to ﬁve years for an avocado tree to bear fruit ready for export. It is estimated that this coming season, which begins in September, around 3.5m trays will be exported from New Zealand with AVOCO exporting close to 65% of these.
“Everyone is enjoying strong ﬁnancial results and the industry is in very good health.”
This article was brought to you in association with the following businesses…
- Golden Mile Fruitpackers