Peak industry body New Zealand Avocado has released its final crop report for the 2014/15 season, with a record 7m trays picked, packed and marketed over the New Zealand summer.
The pack-out volume smashed the previous industry high of 6.1m trays sold in 2011/12, while it also represents a 43 per cent rise on the volume sold over 2013/14. Moving the record crop proved to be no problem for the industry, with global demand for the offering at an all time high, according to New Zealand Avocado chief executive Jen Scoular.
“Growth in the consumption of avocados in our key markets continues to be very impressive,” Scoular explained. “The Australian market performed very well for us, with strong matching of supply and demand by our exporters. Demand for our premium produce is also growing in emerging Asian markets like Singapore, Thailand and Malaysia. To have achieved sales of NZ$135m (US$ 94.79m) in our largest season to date, is a fantastic result and a credit to the hard work across the industry.”
PGP up and running
The 2014/15 season marked the first year of the industry’s Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme, being delivered in association with the New Zealand Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI). The programme, called New Zealand Avocados Go Global, aims to triple productivity and increase avocado sales to NZ$280m (US$196.60) by 2023.
“New Zealand Avocados Go Global is a five year programme and based on this year’s results we believe this forecast is achievable,” Scoular said. “We have an extensive R&D programme now in place. We have a strong partnership with Plant & Food Research, and have secured additional research funding. Through these programmes we are analysing a number of factors such as irrigation, canopy management and tree health to develop and implement best practise to increase productivity.”
Market development will also play an important role in achieving the sales goal. Australia remains the industry’s largest export market, taking 3.2m trays this season, however, Scoular said Asia was also firming as a core market. Around 1.3m trays were sold into the Asian region over 2014/15, almost double the previous record set in 2011/12.
“We showcased New Zealand avocados at Asia’s largest fresh produce trade show, Asia Fruit Logistica, in Hong Kong last September and had a terrific response,” Scoular explained. “Our marketing collateral is being used successfully by exporters and at industry events in Singapore, Japan, Korea, Thailand and India and we’ve had lots of positive feedback from current and potential in-market partners.”
Industry figures are confident the Asian trade could grow even more substantially once market access to China is approved.
“Avocados are the top priority for horticultural product access to China being negotiated by MPI,” said Ashby Whitehead, chairman of New Zealand Avocado Growers’ Association and Avocado Industry Council. “We are putting plans in place on the basis we can meet the protocols required by 2016 so we’re working closely with MPI to get all the technical information that China requires to progress our application.”