The head of Australia’s peak industry body for avocados says the country’s growers are “disappointed” by a major retailer’s apparent decision to favour imports over locally grown fruit.
John Tyas, chief executive of Avocados Australia, said Woolworths had already stopped sourcing Australian avocados for its Queensland stores, opting to import fruit from New Zealand.
Australia’s avocado supply is boosted by New Zealand imports during the spring and summer months. However, with Australian growers expected to harvest more than 17,000 tonnes of avocados between September and Christmas, Tyas questioned why the move towards New Zealand fruit had been made so early.
“This volume is down a bit from last year, but should be sufficient to supply more than half of the Australian market demand during this period,” Tyas said. “The Australian industry is expecting to supply more than 1,200 tonnes per week in September (about 6m avocados per week), which largely meets the Australian market demand at this time.
“Australian growers are very disappointed Woolworths has stopped sourcing locally-grown avocados for most of its Queensland stores already, given the large volumes of Australian fruit that are currently available.”
Tyas said the decision may have been made following forecasts for a short crop out of Western Australian, Australia's key production hub over summer months. Pre-season estimates put Western Australian crop volumes 40 per cent down on last season.
“The market will need the imported fruit to boost the local supply later in the year, but not right now,” Tyas added. “It is important the major chains consult with their suppliers and Avocados Australia to ensure their decisions are based on the best information available. Some do this better than others.”
According to the latest industry statistics released by Avocados Australia, domestic production doubled over the past decade and is forecast to double again, with the 100,000 tonne mark expected to be reached by 2025.
Australian per capita consumption reached 3.27 kg per person in 2015, ranking amongst the highest avocado consumption levels in the English-speaking world.