For fresh produce marketing in Australia and New Zealand
Matthew Jones



Seeka commences Gem planting programme

Leading fresh produce company aims to diversify avocado category in New Zealand

Seeka commences Gem planting programme

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An avocado variety said to be less prone to alternate bearing is generating plenty of interest amongst New Zealand growers.

Planting of the new variety – known as Gem – got underway in New Zealand late last year, with a further 6,000-9,000 trees set to go into the ground this Spring.

Bay of Plenty-based firm Seeka has acquired the New Zealand rights to Gem, claiming it presents a number of advantages over the dominant Hass variety grown in New Zealand.

The variety’s ability to yield consistent year-on-year production volumes is expected to be particularly attractive to New Zealand growers, who currently have to structure sales programmes around biennial bearing crops.

Seeka has claimed the tear-drop shaped Gem can also be planted at a higher density than Hass and is easier for growers to manage.

“The interest from growers in acquiring Gem Avocado has been extremely high,” said Seeka Chief Executive Michael Franks

“They see it as providing them with a competitive edge because of its characteristics. With the harsh lessons from Psa in the kiwifruit industry, there has been a realisation in the horticulture sector that you don’t want an industry based on just one main variety.”

It would appear timing is also on Gem’s side, with the variety maturing a little later in the season, meaning the fruit will help fill the post-Christmas/New Year gap in the market.

“Gem will give our growers a competitive advantage in the marketplace,” said Annmarie Lee, Seeka General Manager Growers & Marketing. “The Australian market is usually very strong in January and February, and this will allow us to spread supply more effectively and maximise returns for our growers.”

The variety has come out of the University of California Riverside’s avocado breeding programme, with Seeka acquiring the New Zealand rights from the master licence holder, Westfalia, in 2014.

Seeka has licensed Lynwood Nursery in Whangarei and Riverson Nursery in Gisborne to build up enough rootstock to supply growers.

Following on from the first major planting this Spring, a further 6,000-9,000 trees will be released in 2018. The first commercial quantities are expected in 2019-2020, with volumes increasing from then.














 New Zealand industry to achieve consistent year-on-year production


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