New Zealand avocado exporter Avanza is aiming to increase its share in the Japanese market this season, after its sales to the Asian nation commenced last week.
Rival supplier Mexico is expected to enter Japan with a smaller crop than past seasons, allowing Avanza – an export alliance made up of Southern Produce Ltd, Primor Produce and Just Avocados - to start early season negotiations at significantly improved market prices.
As part of its 12-month sourcing strategy, Japan recognises New Zealand as a premium supplier during a window between September and January. The first New Zealand shipments arrived at the tail end of last month and have now been ripened by local distributors ready for sale.
Ted Thomas, export manager of Primor Produce, says Avanza has made a significant change in how its fruit is supplied across the Japanese market, with distributor Fresh Systems coming on board.
“Working with Fresh Systems brings together a long-term plan that Avanza have been working on with its business partner Mission Produce based in California,’’ Thomas said.
“We expect Fresh Systems will handle about 80-90 per cent of Avanza’s Japanese supply in year one, with big growth plans beyond this season.”
Thomas said interest in New Zealand avocados is growing in developing markets such as Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia, while there are signs Avanza’s Hong Kong sales programme will resume after a two-year absence.
The encouraging start to the export season is also good news for Avoco, an alliance formed this year between Southern Produce and Primor Produce. Avoco, which represents about 75% of New Zealand avocado growers, is now forecasting its sales will top the NZ$50m mark in all markets this season through to August. Avanza is handling its sales to countries other than Australia, with Avoco growers sharing equally in the alliance’s returns from all markets.
Avoco director Alistair Young said the early season prices have excited growers, but important has been placed on structuring the harvest to maintain a targeted supply.
“We are aware of strong grower pressure to pick more fruit in this early phase of the season, but all the market forecasts show values strengthening strongly in December, January and February,” Young said. “To get ahead of ourselves now will potentially place the strong values we are working towards at risk.
“On the upside, the opening prices in Australia are the best we have seen and the returns will build a good foundation for the grower pool going forward.”