New Zealand avocados on the march

For fresh produce marketing in Australia and New Zealand
Carl Collen

BY CARL COLLEN

New Zealand avocados on the march

NZ Avocado's Jen Scoular says that collaboration is paying off for the industry

New Zealand avocados on the march

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Plans to quadruple sales of New Zealand avocados by 2023 is off to a strong start with the industry almost hitting the halfway mark last season with a record 7.1m trays worth NZ$135m harvested.

Jen Scoular, chief executive of NZ Avocado, says the goal is to achieve NZ$280m worth of sales by 2023 through a five-year Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) programme with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

“Confidence is riding high, and the industry is on track to achieve the PGP objectives and significantly boost avocado sales and productivity in less than ten years,” she says.

NZ Avocado’s annual report is proving collaboration and increased investment is already contributing to the impressive results and is prompting industry members to communicate and collaborate like never before, the group says, with work now underway to create the industry’s first information portal.

“The idea is to provide a central online hub of information accessible to growers, orchard contractors, post-harvest operators, marketers and exporters," Scoular continues. "As an industry we want to share data and knowledge and provide people in the avocado industry access to insights that will help improve decision-making and orchard productivity."

Scoular, along with other NZ Avocado representatives, met with growers in Whangarei and the Far North recently to discuss information needs which will form the basis for the functional specifications for the information portal. Further workshops will be held in the Bay of Plenty, and with other avocado industry groups.

The move is another sign New Zealand’s avocado industry is maturing into a more cohesive, competitive force on the global stage. Demand from export markets continues to grow, and avocados are more popular with consumers than ever before.

Cooperation among exporters delivered excellent results in the Australian market in particular last season, with 3.2m trays of New Zealand avocados sold at stronger than forecast values despite a huge Australian-grown crop also being available. A further 1.2m trays were sold into new and developing markets.

Andrew Darling, chairman of the avocado exporters’ council, AVEC, says after some tough years the industry is maturing and working together closer.

“We are recognising collectively the potential value of our industry and working on a common industry strategy to achieve greater growth,” he says. “As exporters we are competitive but collaborate on planning and volume forecasting. The Australian market remains crucial to New Zealand and planning our supply into Australia is a critical requirement which affects us all.

“We did this very well in 2014/15 which is reflected in the strong returns for growers. Across Asia we leveraged the generic collateral for ‘Premium Avocados from New Zealand’ which we co-brand with our individual in-market brands.

“The 2014/15 result shows we are growing stronger as an industry. We are able to promote ourselves to create demand, and supply a high-quality product to meet that demand,” says Darling.

Avocado Industry Council chairman Ashby Whitehead says the board was very pleased with the “excellent results” reported in this year’s annual report and was looking forward to the AGM on 26 August.

“We have made fantastic progress towards our PGP goals in the last 12 months. Increasing investment in the industry reflects the growing confidence in the opportunities for New Zealand avocados in both our export and domestic markets.”

Investment has also ramped up in our avocado nurseries, with an 18 month wait for delivery of trees,” Whitehead says.

Scoular says consumers can’t get enough of avocados.

“We’ve just launched a new campaign in MiNDFOOD magazine to help educate the public about where their avocados come from as food traceability is a very current issue, and an area we excel in.

“Overall we are very happy to be working together as an industry to satisfy the demand for premium avocados from New Zealand,” she says.

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