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stuff website (february 2017): market planning for china underway

Leading avocado export supply group AVOCO has welcomed the announcement that New Zealand market access to China has been granted for the 2018-19 export season.

AVOCO exports New Zealand avocados to various Asian markets under its AVANZA brand and the company has been preparing for access to China for some time. Preliminary planning has included the development of a market-specific brand name designed to be the exemplar brand from New Zealand for China.

Anticipating access would be granted for 2018-19, last month the AVANZA market management team drafted an initial market plan for China involving target volumes, size profile and supply phasing. China, like India and South Korea, will be developed with the view to it becoming a market for premium quality, larger-size fruit.

A pre-season market visit is scheduled for April to finalise importer-distributor arrangements and identify optimum sales channels to be pursued, looking at a mix of both “off-line” retail store format sales and “on-line” opportunities. New Zealand’s scale and seasonality relative to the South American supply nations will be a key consideration in customer selection.

New Zealand will compete for shelf space in China with fruit from Mexico, Peru and Chile – the only other countries currently benefiting from market access.

AVOCO’s marketing and communications manager, Steve Trickett, says the unique climate and extending growing season New Zealand avocados are produced in will help to differentiate AVANZA fruit in the produce aisle. This will be supported by point-of-sale consumer education material covering nutritional attributes, handling and recipe ideas.

Research has proven that avocados grown in New Zealand have 20 percent more folate and twice as much vitamin B6 than avocados grown elsewhere.

“Being the closest and therefore freshest Southern Hemisphere source of avocados to China, the subtle differences in the taste and texture profile of our fruit, as well as presenting consumers with a larger piece of fruit backed by promotional investment, will help underpin our brand story, all aimed to secure a premium place in the market,” says Mr Trickett.

Market access to China follows a successful technical audit of the regulatory system for exporting this week. The Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) and China’s General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) signed the protocol to agree export requirements in November 2017.

Demand for New Zealand avocados has steadily grown in key Asian markets due to efforts led by AVANZA to educate consumers on the health and versatility benefits of the fruit.

As Asian economies continue to develop and an increasing number of wealthier consumers emerge, diets become more varied and demand for high quality nutritious international food grows. We project that growth in demand for avocados is only set to increase, says Mr Trickett.

“In operating AVANZA, AVOCO has built relationships in many exciting Asian markets and it’s fantastic that we can now add China to that list.

“AVANZA is trusted by buyers in Asia to supply great-tasting avocados and our long-term commitment to Asia and our regular presence there has built up market loyalty.

“The combined efforts of many to win access to China is great news for AVOCO growers and the export industry as a whole.”


fresh plaza (december 12): steve trickett joins avoco

Steve Trickett has joined AVOCO’s senior management team to expand on market development in Asia and oversee grower communications at home.

A familiar face to many avocado growers, Steve has joined the company as Marketing and Communications Manager and is responsible for market planning and performance with focus on new and developing markets where fruit carries the AVANZA brand. He will support the existing sales and marketing team, oversee contestable fund applications and develop AVOCO’s communications and profile among the grower community.

Steve’s 35-year experience in the export sector includes stints at Fruitfed Export, NZ Kiwifruit Marketing Board (now Zespri), Chiquita Brands New Zealand Ltd, ENZA Fresh, Freshmax Ltd and Turners & Growers Exports.

Until earlier this year, Steve worked for another Bay of Plenty avocado exporter. He says the move to AVOCO enables him to continue in an industry he’s passionate about.

“I’ve worked with, known and respected the key people in AVOCO for well over 20 years and I’m a strong supporter of the AVANZA model used beyond Australia. So, I am excited by the fact that AVOCO management were keen for me to join them and further bolster what is a formidable marketing team,” says Steve.

“I also welcome the opportunity to be part of a much larger business such as AVOCO that has compelling brand relevance via ‘AVANZA’, the Asian market brand, with recognised market leadership and the best pick of customers across the region.”

Steve is a firm believer that New Zealand’s avocado industry has a bright future. Avocados tick all the right boxes from a consumer perspective and this has fuelled global demand.

“Avocados are nutritious, versatile and tasty. Taste and texture is very important to the Asian consumer especially. They are very aware of the subtleties of every part of the fruit.

“From a commercial perspective, avocados can be shipped by sea from New Zealand to avoid costly air freight. Overall, they’re a fabulous, healthy fruit that has won over consumers worldwide and that demand shows no signs of abating.”

Outside of Australia, Asia is New Zealand’s next biggest market and it’s a region where relationship-building with key customers and distributors is paramount. Steve has worked in the region extensively and says the “New Zealand story” has real currency for export groups like AVOCO.

“In Asia, our fruit is regarded as a great product, it’s come from a great origin and is mostly supplied at a time when competitor supply countries such as Mexico struggle with quality. People also have a favourable perception of our clean, green image.

“Every time you go to a NZ trade office in Tokyo, Seoul or elsewhere in Asia, they say don’t stop promoting the ‘New Zealandness’ of your product. It’s very important and resonates well with consumers.”

With the New Zealand avocado industry inching closer to market access to China, Steve is taking an active role in helping AVOCO lead the way by visiting China to learn more about sales and distribution systems. 

A small industry coordinated non-commercial trial shipment to China is scheduled for next month following completion of on-shore audits by the Chinese authorities. Full commercial shipments are unlikely until the new season starts in September 2018.

While there are huge trade opportunities in China, Steve says it’s critical to first understand the market’s supply chain differences, and to then select which sales channels to pursue in the immediate to medium term.


te puke times (july 13): te puke family to feature on iconic country calendar


Avocado industry stalwart Ron Bailey and his family will feature in an episode of popular rural TV show Country Calendar this Sunday.

The half-hour programme will explore how Ron and his family have diversified their rural business interests after purchasing a Te Puke dairy farm on Rangiuru Rd in 1963. With the support of wife Shirley and their three adult children, he now oversees productive avocado and kiwifruit orchards as well as continuing to operate a 300-cow dairy unit.

Filming took place earlier this year, coinciding with filming for a promotional video for avocado export supply group AVOCO.

“The producer was filming for AVOCO and realised there was another story to tell about how we’ve put together a family enterprise in which everyone has their own area of responsibility,” says Ron. “We’ve never been involved in anything like it before so it was intriguing to see just how much footage they need for television and learn about all the technical stuff that happens behind-the-scenes.”

Ron and Shirley bought the Rangiuru Rd property not long after getting married and moved there with Ron’s parents who were nearing retirement and wanted to be close to town. They built houses for each couple and got started improving what had been a rundown dairy farm.

They made steady progress until the 1970s when Soldier Fly decimated large areas of ryegrass, prompting them to start planting alternative crops, including citrus and tamarillos. In 1976, they planted their first avocado trees and more than 40 years on, have established a 15ha avocado orchard.

“We were early movers in the avocado industry,” says Ron. “But in the 1980s, we decided that if we’re going to get into horticulture, we would need more than one crop.”

They planted kiwifruit vines and now have 20ha made up of gold and green varieties with much of it planted on a property they bought across the road from the original dairy unit.

“We’ve been farming folk for several generations and experienced all the ups and downs that go with that. But we wanted to set up a business entity that didn’t have to rely on the price of milk or avocados.”

Their deliberate management strategy to diversify has kept the Baileys going despite having to deal with the effects of PSA wiping out sections of their kiwifruit orchard, falling global milk prices and Mother Nature dumping snow on their avocado orchard during pollination.

“We’ve always managed to keep the businesses rolling along because if one unit was down, the others could pick up the slack. It’s a management strategy that seems to work well.”

All three adult children have been given responsibility for different areas in the overall business. Steve Bailey oversees the dairy farm and two run-off blocks while brother Chris manages the kiwifruit and avocado orchards. Daughter Karen contributes by managing the accounts and compliance issues.

Their involvement has enabled Ron to take on a more active role in the avocado industry. He has served as chairman on the New Zealand Avocado Industry Council and in his role on AVOCO’s grower-led management committee, he has witnessed the industry transform.

“It was a fledgling industry when I first got involved. Now it’s grown significantly off the back of avocados becoming such a successful product category. To have been part of that industry for many years now is very rewarding and it’s so satisfying to see how AVOCO has added valued to growers’ pockets and created stability for everyone.”

Country Calendar screens at 7pm on Sunday on TV One.


coast and country (july 3 2017): video documents company's avocado influence

A new video on the AVOCO website is helping to tell the story of AVOCO’s amazing export success.

Filmed by acclaimed New Zealand documentary maker Peter Young, the video illustrates the journey avocados take after they’re picked by an AVOCO grower, ending up on the plates of Australian and Asian consumers.

Over a period of six months, Peter visited orchards and packhouses in the Bay of Plenty and Northland to interview AVOCO growers and hear from packhouse representatives for their views on how the industry has improved and the role that AVOCO has played in its dramatic transformation.

Filming also took place in Australia at supermarkets and dedicated ripening and distribution centres as well as in Japan where AVOCO sells fruit to consumers under the AVANZA brand.

AVOCO director John Carroll says the video has been warmly received by growers and packhouse staff, all of whom play an incredibly important role in an industry that’s going from strength to strength.

“Our industry has evolved through AVOCO’s collaborative approach to doing business and our success over the past four seasons has been achieved through the efforts of everyone working together for a common goal.

“That unity is AVOCO’s strength. Now, we’d love even more growers to join us through our network of five packhouses, including our three in the Bay of Plenty – Apata, Trevelyan’s and KauriPak.”

The 2016-17 season was a record-breaker for the industry and AVOCO. Of the 4.8 million trays exported in total, AVOCO handled close to 2.9 million trays. A little more than 80% of AVOCO’s crop went to Australia, with close to two-thirds (63%) of all shipments supplied directly to Australian retail.

AVOCO also honoured its long-term commitments in Asia where customers across Japan and South-East Asia continue to discover the premium quality of New Zealand avocados and the fruit’s versatility and health benefits.

While AVOCO would always be committed to market development, John says the “honey pot” of Australia played a part in last season’s solid Orchard Gate Returns that were paid out to growers in April.

“Demand for avocados continues to be strong across the Tasman but it helps to be connected to Australia’s two leading retailers – this is a major advantage for our growers and a contributor to the returns we generate.

“Retailers there have confidence in AVOCO to expertly manage the supply chain from the moment our premium avocados are picked to the time they arrive at retail distribution centres.

“Adding to this, we have incredibly good relationships with our off-shore handlers and ripeners who really work hard for us and our growers to ensure their fruit arrives at retail in top condition.”

With the industry forecasting a much lower national crop volume in 2017-18, growers are being encouraged to think carefully about who they supply next season.

AVOCO director Alistair Young says AVOCO welcomes new growers and the opportunity to demonstrate how supplying New Zealand’s leading export group can add value to their orchard businesses.

“Start by viewing the video on our AVOCO website then have a conversation with one of our packhouse reps who can talk you through our returns and the kind of technical support that we provide growers to improve your orchard health and productivity.”



Waihi Beach Coastguard’s new $197,000 purpose-built rescue vessel is being lauded a “game changer” by those who helped get it on the water – the public.

The sun shone down on the beachside community at the weekend as 70 people witnessed the new AVOCO Rescue vessel officially blessed by Pio Formby of Otawhiwhi Marae and welcomed into Waihi Beach Coastguard’s rescue fleet at its Bowentown headquarters.

The fifth rescue vessel in the voluntary organisation’s 27-year history, AVOCO Rescue, is a 5.8m Naiad designed RHIB (rigid hull inflatable boat), powered by twin 115hp Yamaha outboards.

It replaces Search Two, a 5.5m long vessel, which since being launched in 2003 clocked up more than 1000 hours on the water and joins Coastguard’s primary vessel ‘Gallagher Rescue’, a 9.5m Naiad powered by twin 250hp Yamaha four stroke outboards.

The purpose-built vessel is a result of a partnership between AVOCO, TECT, The Lion Foundation, First Sovereign Trust, Valder Ohinemuri Trust and the Western Bay of Plenty Coastguard unit.

AVOCO has pledged an annual sponsorship contribution of $20,000 for three years which will go towards Coastguard’s yearly operational costs as well as the running costs of AVOCO Rescue.

“It is humbling to be closely connected with such a vital voluntary organisation in the local community,” says AVOCO director John Carroll.

“Volunteers are the lifeblood of any community and their efforts often go unrecognised. This vessel is the recognition of public gratitude and we are proud to be involved.”

Other dignitaries, including Coromandel MP Scott Simpson, Western Bay of Plenty District Council Mayor Garry Webber and Tauranga Energy Consumer Trust trustee Peter Blackwell, were in agreement that AVOCO Rescue is a “game changer” in providing an accessible service to ensure all Kiwis enjoy our maritime playground safely.

With more than half of the 200 rescues performed along the stretch of Western Bay of Plenty coastline in 2016 involving people from the greater part of the North Island, this is a vital upgrade.

“The community that you serve goes a lot further than Waihi Beach,” says Mr Webber.

“Each of your calls starts off as someone in strife and a lot of people you have helped come from far and wide. These people are forever grateful for this service.”

Coromandel MP Scott Simpson says the new vessel is the physical manifestation of the tremendous support shown by the community for these efforts.

“The time, effort and energy you as volunteers give to the community is massive. AVOCO Rescue is a great new asset for the wider community.”

The fleet expansion means Coastguard now has the capability to cover two completely different areas, with Gallagher Rescue overseeing the Bowentown Bar, one of the most notorious in New Zealand, and AVOCO Rescue protecting the channels and shallow areas of the Northern Tauranga Harbour.


Coastguard New zealand (march 13): waihi beach's new rescue vessel to hit the water 'officially'

Waihi Beach Coastguard will officially welcome its newest vessel, the $197,000 purpose-built AVOCO Rescue, to the fleet this month with a public ceremony.

Although the 5.8m rescue boat has been out on the water already this summer, Coastguard will hold a launching ceremony on March 18 from 2pm at its Bowentown headquarters. The event will include a blessing from local tangata whenua and have Coromandel MP Scott Simpson, Western Bay of Plenty Mayor Garry Webber, key sponsors and the public in attendance.

The purpose-built vessel is a result of a partnership between AVOCO, TECT, The Lion Foundation, First Sovereign Trust, Valder Ohinemuri Trust and the Western Bay of Plenty Coastguard unit.

AVOCO have pledged an annual sponsorship contribution of $20,000 for three years which will go towards Coastguard’s yearly operational costs as well as the running costs of AVOCO Rescue.

"External funding is paramount to our success. Without them we would not be as well equipped to perform our key role of keeping the community safe when they are out on the water," says Waihi Beach Coastguard spokesperson Jim Pooley.

"We are extremely grateful for the ongoing support from our sponsors, including AVOCO, of seeing this new vessel come to fruition and take our capabilities to new levels."

The $197,000 vessel is a 5.8m Naiad designed RHIB (rigid hull inflatable boat), powered by twin 115hp Yamaha outboards.

It was commissioned to replace Search Two, a 5.5m long vessel, which since being launched in 2003 clocked up more than 1000 hours on the water, and joins Coastguard’s primary vessel ‘Gallagher Rescue’, a 9.5m Naiad powered by twin 250hp Yamaha four stroke outboards.

The fleet expansion means Coastguard now has the capability to cover two completely different areas, with Gallagher Rescue overseeing the Bowentown Bar, one of the most notorious in New Zealand, and AVOCO Rescue protecting the channels and shallow areas of the Northern Tauranga Harbour.

Jim says since hitting the water back in December, the vessel has logged 29 hours – a relatively low number despite the Waihi Beach community swelling from 2700 permanent residents to an estimated 25,000-30,000 over the summer period.

Instead, the boat has been put through its paces in essential training exercises, with Coastguard crew learning how to handle the new vessel ahead of its official launch.

AVOCO director Alistair Young says AVOCO is proud to be a major contributor to Coastguard and helping provide an excellent, accessible service to ensure all Kiwis enjoy our maritime playground safely.

“Volunteers are the lifeblood of this community and every dollar counts when it comes to helping support these fantastic efforts.

“I have had numerous comments over summer from AVOCO members about how fantastic AVOCO Rescue looks on the water and long may it continue.”

Western Bay of Plenty Mayor Garry Webber says while the Western Bay covers predominantly rural areas and the surrounds of Tauranga city, ensuring the safety of residents and visitors at the region’s popular coastal locations is a core priority for council.

“Sadly, there are times when people get into trouble and need the help of Coastguard to rescue them, which is why council unanimously agreed to support Coastguard’s $20,000 funding application toward a building extension at its headquarters to house the new vessel.

“The northern entrance to the Tauranga Harbour is well guarded by the Waihi Beach Coastguard and the Maketu Estuary and Kaituna Cut are guarded by the Maketu Coastguard.

“Both these operations are in our district and are in the hands of extremely well-qualified and experienced volunteers. It is essential that their equipment and the rescue fleet are maintained to the highest level.

“We hope that those people who are helped by Coastguard services really appreciate this dedication and life-saving work.”


waihi leader (FEBRUARY 23): heroes of the sea recognised

Waihi Beach Coastguard held their annual prizegiving over the weekend with volunteers and their families getting together to enjoy a meal at the Bowentown headquarters.

Coastguard president Tim Watts thanked everyone for the time and dedication they have put in over the last 12 months, especially over the busy Christmas holiday period.

"These awards recognise some of the individuals who have given so much" he said.

The Graeme Fenn Trophy for best overall volunteer was awarded to relative newcomer Sam Dunlop.

"Since joining us last year, Sam has involved himself in many aspects of the organisation and is always willing to get stuck in. We have been busy with the build of our new boat, Avoco Rescue, and the extensions to our building and Sam has often been part of that as well," Tim said.

Other awards went to Adrian Davey (Cyril Guiliard Cup for best radio operator), Greg Hunt (Noel Haszard Cup for best boat crew), Andrew Jennings (Rena Trophy), Allan Potter (best trainee boat crew) and Joanne Curd (best trainee radio operator).

An official launch and blessing of Avoco Rescue is planned for Saturday, March 18 at 2pm.


katikati advertiser (february 9): Pulling for a trophy prize

The Hawk Wrestling team from Hamilton were the inaugural winners of the 2017 Katikati Avo Expo Tug-O-War competition at the Katikati A&P Show.

The team had come to Katikati to take part in the wrestling on show day and decided to have a go at the tugo-war competition. The five pulling members battled it out with a team from Birchwood packhouse for the title.

"It was hard work!" Hawk Wrestling team leader Gene Letford said.

"Katikati is a lovely town, and it's nice to be here." The event was sponsored by AVOCO, with the trophy - a mounted avocado - and a bag of branded goodies presented to the team by director, Alistair Young.

There was an open invitation for teams to enter the tug-o-war competition.

Each team had to have five pulling members, and two had to be women. Three teams entered on the day.

Eleven people, mostly growers, were involved with organising the event.

One of them, Linda Flegg, said they hope to run the event again next year.

"I think we made a few errors in the way it was presented and organised, but we hope to see it back next year with more entries." The event was open to any business, sports club or anyone wanting to put in a team.


coast and country (february 1): Swell of interest in Coastguards national lifejacket campaign

Boaties and other watersports enthusiasts hitting the waves in Waihi Beach will be sporting new-look safety gear this summer after spending in excess of $15,000 on new lifejackets during a nationwide water safety campaign.

Coastguard New Zealand's 'Old4New Lifejacket Upgrade' van recently paid the beachside community a visit, giving the public a chance to replace in their old or damaged lifejackets with modern, fitfor-purpose Hutchwilco lifejackets at a discounted rate, and also receive advice about boating and water safety.

The scheduled three-hour stop was part of the national body's highly successful safety initiative 'Old4New Lifejacket Upgrade', which has gone nationwide for the first time this summer.

Each summer, the Waihi Beach community swells from 2700 permanent residents to an estimated 25,000-30,000, presenting the perfect opportunity to properly educate and equip people for on-thewater activities.

Popular initiative Waihi Beach Coastguard spokesperson Jim Pooley says Old4New staff members, aided by local coastguard volunteers, were rushed off their feet during the three hours - a testament to the popularity and importance of this initiative.

"The organisers estimate more than $15,000 worth of lifejackets were traded in during this discounted period. This is a phenomenal amount as the cost of a lifejacket ranges on average from $60-$90.

"It just shows the majority of people value the safety of themselves and others when out on the water. A number of people were asking water safety questions, which was great as we don't always get a concentrated chance like this to spread those key messages."

As predicted, among the casualty pile of replaced lifejackets, there was the odd salt-crusted relic that should have been decommissioned well before now.

"There were some crazy ones that appeared, including a couple of lifejackets that were past seeing better days. So it was great to have them handed over," says Jim.

Correct equipment Jim adds it was not just the boating community taking advantage of the event but groups, including kayakers and stand up paddle boarders - highlighting that no matter how you are on the water it is important to have the correct safety equipment.

"Lifejackets are designed to save lives no matter what mode of vessel you have on the water. But in order for them to do their job, you have to take care of yours. It is everyone's responsibility to maintain and care for their flotation device on a regular basis.

"As lifejackets spend so much time in a harsh marine environment, where they are often exposed to heat, sun and salt, they are subject to damage. That's why is it vital you ensure they are in good nick by either checking them yourself or by an expert."

The Old4New Lifejacket Upgrade forms a key part of Waihi Beach Coastguard's advocacy for safe and enjoyable boating during the 2016-2017 summer season.

AVOCO Rescue As part of this commitment, Waihi Beach Coastguard has expanded its fleet with the addition of'AVOCO Rescue', a 5.8m Naiad-designed Rigid Hull Inflatable Boat powered by twin 115hp Yamaha outboards - allowing coverage of the channels and shallow areas of the Northern Tauranga Harbour.

Sponsored by AVOCO, New Zealand's largest avocado export group, the vessel replaces 'Search Two' and is part of AVOCO's ongoing partnership, pledging an annual sponsorship contribution of $20,000 for three years.


coast and country (february 1): A Tug O War to showcase avocado growing efforts

What do woodchopping and Tug O War have in common? If heading to Katikati A&P Show on Sunday, February 5, at Uretara Domain you'll find the answer is avocados.

You see the show is getting a tough new event this year - with the public asked to sign up for it to help celebrate the region's big role in growing avocadoes.

Last year the inaugural Katikati Avo Expo set up camp at Katikati A&P Show to claim the town as New Zealand's avocado capital by bringing back woodchopping to the show.

Spokesperson of the organising team Linda Flegg says there's a number of local [avocado] growers in the region "who believe we should be seen in Katikati as the avocado capital of N Z - like Ohakune is the growing capital of carrots".

"It was the brainchild of Sheryl Palmer, a longtime grower in our region - and she approached the marketing company AVOCO with the idea.

"They came on-board with some sponsorship and the big drawcard [last year] was to the get woodchopping back into the A&P show - because it hadn't functioned there for some time."

Trade exhibitors relating to the avocado industry had stalls set up to showcase their businesses - for example, contractors and nurserymen - around the expo marquee.

This year the expo's organising team is ramping up its efforts by adding a Tug O War Competition to accompany the woodchopping display.

Linda says year two of the expo is about making it a little bit bigger and more interesting to show-goers on February 5.

"Initially we were going to throw invitations out to packhouses for the Tug O War Competition but now we've opened it to the public."

The Tug O War requires teams of five, with a maximum weight of 400kg and including a minimum of two women - a non-pulling team captain is optional too - to compete.

"We're hoping to set up the Tug O War on the cricket pitch in the middle of the field so people can stop and watch.

"Depending on the interest we will run eliminations and eventually we'll come out with two teams, which will compete for a trophy."

Linda says New Zealand Avocado is supporting the expo, supplying information booklets and recipes for avocadoes to hand out to the public.

"We'll have avocado craft activities for the kids plus we'll be running our 'avo shy' again which is like a coconut shy. Kids just loved throwing rubber avocados at a target to win a real avocados as a prize."

An addition this year will be avocado food samples on offer. "We'll have guacamole, avocado bliss balls and tarts to give away." And the Just Avocadoes tent will offer avocado icecream.

"And we're making avocado beer - and we'll be giving out tasting samples. We just added the avocado to the brew and we are hoping it tastes alright."

Katikati A&P Show - with the Katikati Avo Expo - is on Sunday, February 5, from 9am at Uretara Domain - with all of the usual country-flavoured fun including cattle judging, calf club, horse events, home industries, the cow milking contest, 'wonder dogs', trade stalls, and much more.


bay of plenty times (january 19): craft brewer prepares new avocado beer for katikati a&p show

The avocado industry has enlisted Stu Marshall of craft brewery Rocky Knob to come up with an avocado-flavoured beer for next month's Katikati A&P Show. However, the "experimental" brew has yet to be put to the taste test.

Mike Swan, marketing manager of avocado company Southern Produce, which is part of export marketing group Avoco, said the idea had come from one of the organising committee members planning the avocado showcase at the event on February 4-5 .

"She'd seen a report of an avocado beer being brewed in California, and there was a bit of information online," he said.

"It is just to help showcase the industry. There's lots of interest in the craft beer industry at the moment. We spoke to Stu and he said he'd give it a crack. But it remains to be seen how it will come out."

Marshall confirmed the new brew was part-way through the fermentation process and would be ready for taste-testing in a week.

"There aren't many beers out there that have been made with avocados and I'm not aware of any having been made in New Zealand."

Marshall said they had developed and tasted the base beer, which is a saison, originating in a French-speaking part of Belgium which is traditionally brewed for seasonal workers.

"The base is light in colour and has a peppery and fruity taste to it," he said. "We've added the avocado and now it's in the fermenting stage."

The brewery is producing just 40 litres as a pilot and the avocado stand will offer A&P visitors free 60ml samples.

"I have told Mike I'm not guaranteeing anything," said Marshall. "It's a completely and utterly experimental beer. But I guess if it's a successful brew we might look at doing a seasonal release."

Craft beer sales nationally surged 35 per cent in 12 months to more than $100 million, according to ANZ's New Zealand Craft Beer Industry Insights report, released last year.

Craft brands now account for 15 per cent of the total beer market, up from nine per cent three years ago. The 168 craft breweries operating across the country are producing more than 1500 unique brews, the report said.


coast and country (january 16): taking to the skies for a better view

Technology is advancing at a rapid pace and it’s believed the use of robots, drones and automated systems are the future when it comes to enhancing efficiency and productivity within the horticulture industry.

With interest in this area growing, avocado export supply group AVOCO is actively exploring how the data generated from future mapping technology could improve the way growers and the wider industry operate in years to come.

“Being able to estimate crop volumes would be incredibly beneficial to AVOCO and the industry,” says AVOCO technical manager Colin Partridge.

“If we could identify the number of fruit on trees between March and May every year, that would be very helpful and I would encourage further exploration in this area.”

While the ability to measure fruit size or volume is likely to be several years away, growers attending an AVOCO drone technology field day at a Katikati orchard were given a glimpse into the future of how information collected using aerial mapping can already help them measure the health of their trees and track changes on their orchards over time.

Aerial data

Thanks to James Paterson, the co-founder of South African-based Aerobotics, growers were shown how the company’s aerial data, undertaken with a 1.5m-wide automated drone, can generate various data “layers” of an orchard, generating bird’s eye visual maps as well as maps that report on canopy cover, tree counts and spacing.

Other measurement tools can take cross-sections of an orchard to view elevation profiles and crop heights. Information generated by the on-board infrared cameras can also be used to understand drainage patterns and identify tree stress, pinpointing problem areas in an orchard.

“If growers decide to take action on an area of their orchard, or even on an individual tree, they can use the drone and the software to monitor and measure how those trees respond over a period of time.

“The aim is to improve yield and the data collected can report on whether various management strategies around things like irrigation or fertiliser applications are working or need revising,” says James.

Precision benefits

The data precision benefits of drone technology and Unmanned Aerial Vehicles are also being explored at one of five packhouses supporting AVOCO.

Trevelyan’s in Te Puke currently works closely with Tauranga-based company, GPS-it, to aerial map its kiwifruit orchards and back in October approached another local company, Digipix, to map 20ha across four avocado orchards on Maniatutu Rd.

Trevelyan’s Packhouse avocado manager Daniel Birnie says a move to aerial mapping is just another evolution in offering the best technology and equipment to growers and contractors.

However, the idea is very much in the early stages with Trevelyan’s management working through the logistics and weighing up the cost/benefits of mapping 300ha spread across 150 growers.

For Trevelyan’s, the main advantages of UAV mapping are their precision, in comparison to the current 2D maps implemented, and the ability to limit health and safety concerns as people don’t need to set foot into any hazardous areas.

Next level

“An actual camera shot, like that of DigiPix’s, will show us additional features such as GPS and the topography. This will take mapping to the next level and provide us more accurate information to share with everyone throughout the process,” says Trevelyan’s technical manager Phil Allison

“Some orchards we have already GPS mapped, but we want to investigate how the drone takes into account the topography and whether that gives you an accurate per hectare measurement of the orchards too.”

As well as helping Trevelyan’s and contractors better manage hazards on an orchard, having an accurate picture of an orchard’s contour ahead of time will assist in the planning of a harvest whereby the most appropriate Hydralada can be matched to suit each orchard’s particular landscape.


coast and country (december 1): big fruit, big season - great news for growers

Optimum growing conditions in the Bay of Plenty combined with excellent orchard management practices have created an ideal supply-demand scenario for avocado export group AVOCO.

Large size fruit - of 16-25 count - carries a premium export price and growers supplying AVOCO are likely to be well rewarded with the export group reporting more than three-quarters of its fruit volume is falling into this heavy weight band category for the year to date.

With larger fruit preferred by consumers in Australia and in growing export markets like Korea, the match-up of supply and demand has been pleasing, says AVOCO director John Carroll.

"The five packhouses supporting AVOCO - including our three in the Bay of Plenty - have been dealing with significant volumes of large fruit, which is good news for our retail supply in Australia particularly. Our closest neighbours are more familiar with that size and have come to appreciate they can rely on us to supply a high quality product each and every week.

Korean growth "Equally satisfying is seeing the growth coming out of Korea where large, ready-to-eat pieces are frequently sought by more and more consumers visiting the supermarket."

After a short crop of 2.5 million trays last season about 5.1 million trays will be exported nationally in 2016-2017 exceeding the previous record of 4.5 million trays two years ago.

AVOCO will handle the bulk of New Zealand's crop and this season will export about 3.1 million trays, with 83 per cent destined for Australia. The remaining 17 per cent will be sent to various Asian markets, including Japan, Thailand, Singapore, India and Korea and marketed under the AVANZA brand.

AVANZA is responsible for 85 per cent of all NZ exports to Korea this season, shipping more than 7000 trays a week during a 25-week supply window. The total volume is up 135 per cent on last year.

Shipments to Japan will end this month, completing a 10-week picking season for this more established market that was earmarked for 210,000 trays in 2016 - a 65 per cent increase.

"In a record volume year like this, it's been critical for us to meet our customers' expectations, both in Australia and in our Asian AVANZA markets where we have spent a lot of time and energy promoting New Zealand avocados," says AVOCO director Alistair Young.

"That investment in recent years is paying off and this season we've received signifignt orders.

"What's more, our experience in flow planning and logistics means growers can feel confident about our ability to supply the market with fruit when it needs it most to maximise grower returns as well as respond quickly to changing market conditions."

An example is AVANZA's prompt response to changes in Thailand where the population entered a period of mourning following the death of their King, negatively affecting the hospitality sector.

A volume of fruit destined for Thailand was quickly redirected to other AVANZA markets.

By the end of December, AVOCO expects to have harvested 70 per cent of growers' fruit.

The remaining 30 per cent left on the trees will be picked for Australia, which experiences a shortage of domestic fruit in January and February.

Alistair says the ChristmasNew Year period will remain busy for growers and local packhouses but strong demand for avocados coming out of Australia means their efforts will be well rewarded when disciplines are maintained.


waihi leader (december 1): avocado partners with coastguard

Waihi Beach Volunteer Coastguard has teamed up with New Zealand avocado exporter Avoco in a new partnership.

Avoco, New Zealand's largest avocado exporter, is the new partner of Waihi Beach Volunteer Coastguard.

Both organisations agreed to an ongoing partnership, pledging an annual sponsorship contribution of $20,000 for three years.

This will go towards Coastguard's yearly operational costs of $110,000 as well as the running costs of a new rescue vessel named Avoco Rescue.

The recently completed Avoco Rescue replaces 'Search Two'.

Launched in 2003, the 5.5m long Search Two boat has since clocked up more than 1000 hours on the water.

The new $197,000 vessel, constructed by Alloy Cats Mount Maunganui, is a 5.8m Naiad designed RHIB (rigid hull inflatable boat) powered by twin 115hp Yamaha outboards.

Avoco director Alistair Young says teaming up with the Coastguard was a natural fit for Avoco, given its unwavering commitment to the community.

"We are proud to be backing Waihi Beach Volunteer Coastguard and the amazing efforts they contribute to keep the community safe, usually through countless hours of voluntary service, on and off the water.

"Volunteers are the lifeblood of this community and every dollar counts when it comes to helping support these fantastic efforts." Waihi Beach Volunteer Coastguard spokesperson Jim Pooley says the new rescue boat is already enhancing Coastguards' overall capabilities in keeping a community - which swells from 2700 permanent residents to an estimated 25,000-30,000 during summer - safe on the water.

"It is very exciting for us. The addition of Avoco Rescue means we have the capability to cover two completely different areas with Gallagher Rescue overseeing the Bowentown Bar, one of the most notorious in New Zealand, and Avoco Rescue the channels and shallow areas of the Northern Tauranga Harbour." In the last three years Coastguard responded to 83 calls for assistance and returned 201 people to land. In 2015 alone, they provided 7800 volunteer hours and logged 10,792 radio calls with boaties.

They assisted Police on search and rescue missions, worked with the volunteer Fire Brigade on shoreline scrub fires and assisted the Harbour Master locating and towing floating trees and other hazards.

Jim believes with these figures increasing annually this partnership will usher in a new era for the volunteer organisation, with Avoco Rescue providing essential resources previously unattainable with Search Two.

"In comparison to Search Two, this vessel is a walk-through design enabling two extra crew onboard and can accommodate transportation of medical and search and rescue equipment and a stretchered patient.

"It will also have radar capabilities which will aid in safety at night and limited visibility and performing search and rescue missions for a missing person or vessel." Another positive community spinoff from the partnership is room for the Trust Waikato Waihi Beach Surf Lifeguard Club to permanently store an IRB (inflatable rescue boat) at the headquarters with a new boat shed to be built to accommodate Avoco Rescue.

"It's a real burden during the patrol season for the lifeguards to transport an IRB and ute down here everyday along with patrolling the 10km stretch of beach. This will just help ease this pressure on both resources and staff."


Bay of plenty times (november 25): avocado exporters reaping good sales in korea

Shipments of New Zealand avocados to South Korea have reached an industry high with 209,000 trays planned for export this season, says avocado exporter AVOCO.

Worth about $6 million to the total industry, the 2016 Korean exports are three times the volume exported last year.

The greater volume reflects the industry's larger national crop in 2016-17. However, Carwyn Williams, Southeast Asian market manager for AVOCO's AVANZA brand, says the growth reflects the efforts put in to promote New Zealand avocados in Asia.

New Zealand exporters are now also beginning to benefit from the Free Trade Agreement ratified with Korea in September last year, which saw the 30 per cent tariff on New Zealand avocados drop to 24 per cent in January 2016. The tariff drops annually and will be eliminated in 2024.

After a short crop of 2.5 million trays last season, the New Zealand industry is expecting to export a total of about 5.1 million trays in 2016-17, exceeding the previous record of 4.5 million trays two years ago.

AVOCO is expected to handle the bulk of the crop and this season will export about 3.1 million trays, with 83 per cent destined for Australia, traditionally the biggest market for New Zealand fruit. The remaining 17 per cent will be sent to various Asian markets, including Japan, Thailand, Singapore, India and Korea.

AVANZA says it will handle 85 per cent of New Zealand exports to Korea this season, shipping more than 7000 trays a week over a 25-week supply window. Korean imports of avocados between January and August this year from all origins, including Mexico and the US, were 347,000 trays - an 83 per cent increase on avocado imports during the same eight month period in 2015.

AVANZA market manager Martin Napper said it was expected that New Zealand avocados would make up about half of all avocado imports this year to Korea.

"Korea has been a rapidly growing market for avocados," he said. "Two years ago, New Zealand shipped close to 72,000 trays to Korea - any more and the market could tip over very quickly. But this year, we've received unprecedented interest. Avocados have just hit a nerve."

Korea, unlike other Asian markets, prefers the large size fruit typically produced in New Zealand.

AVANZA has also collaborated in the market with the Avocado Industry Council, which has helped to promote New Zealand avocados on a website designed specifically for a Korean audience.

The Korean website offers recipe ideas and fruit-handling information and the council has also engaged Korean celebrity chef Hong Shin Ae to front avocado tasting events and meal demonstrations. The AIC has also undertaken social media research to better understand the buyer behaviours of consumers throughout Asia.

Source: Bay of Plenty Times

===================================================================================================== (november 23): avocado crops thrive under different systems

The phrase 'chalk and cheese' has been bandied about when referring to Katikati avocado orchardists Barry Mathis and Bruce Polley. 

It is true that the neighbours have a fair amount of differences in both their personalities and the way they grow their fruit, but it must be said that there is also a number of similarities at play.

The subjects of a recent Apata field day, the two orchards were compared in terms of production, intensity and pruning and funnily enough, the old adage seems to be true: There is no right or wrong, just what works for the grower - and the results may very well be the same.

Mathis and Polley, both former dairy farmers (Mathis farmed friesians, Polley jerseys) are on track to yield around 100 tonnes of Hass fruit each this season. Each orchard is around 4.61 canopy hectares, divided into six blocks (Polley) and three blocks (Mathis).

The orchards are on the same reasonably flat terrace with good, volcanic free-draining soil, which slopes into creeks on each side - perfect for preventing hard frosts as cold air tends to run off.

But that's where the similarities end. Mathis runs a more intensive operation than Polley, the catalyst for which was a rough couple of years establishing the trees.

"The first year here we lost 12 trees to the wind," Mathis says. "We did one lot of thinning seven years ago, but we decided we needed to keep the trees smaller and open them up so the wind wouldn't affect them so much. We have a lot more pruning work keeping the height down, compared to what Bruce does."

The hard work has paid off and now, in their tenth year at the orchard, the Mathis' trees have been in full production for the last three years. 

For Mathis, along with wife Grace, avocados are "life after farming". After dairy farming in Whakatane for 26 years, they tried their hand at planting and growing 80 avocado trees on a lifestyle block at Awakeri, but the frosts were hard.

The couple decided to look for a frost-free block further west and after much searching they found the Katikati block, co-owned by Polley and his wife Michelle, and Michelle's family. 

"The block didn't have a house but we needed the bigger, commercially-viable orchard of 800 trees," Grace says. "We bought a caravan and lived in that until our house was built six years ago."

While the trees were becoming established, Mathis worked for Horizon Energy and Grace trained as an early childhood teacher, a job she still does two days a week.

Polley agrees it is unwise to "give up your day job" until an avocado orchard becomes established, an easy 8-10 years. He too suffered crop failures of unknown cause in the first two years.

He made the decision about three years in to reduce the block size as the trees on the sheltered side of the block were much larger than those on the exposed side. 

"It reduced the area in which we could plant trees but it also reduced our risk from storm damage and damage to the fruit," he says. 

He went into agriculture with the clear intention of creating equity. He studied a horticultural science degree at Massey University before managing a kiwifruit orchard for four years. 

"I initially left horticulture for dairy farming as I could see a clearer path to success," he says. "After three years I was 50:50 sharemilking, which I did for eight years."

Polley and his family bought the 12ha block in Katikati in 1999 and he developed the orchard while continuing to sharemilk. In the dairy boom of 2001 he sold his herd and moved to Katikati.

He went back to sharemilking for four years while the orchard became established and in the dairy boom of 2008 he again sold his herd, moving to Katikati permanently. 

As he also owns two other businesses, Polley deliberately runs a less intensive operation than Mathis. Polley's avocado trees are planted 14 metres apart (Mathis' are 10 metres apart) and as the wind is less of an issue on his block, his pruning regimen is far less labour-intensive.

"What takes Barry a month in pruning takes me about a day," he says. 

Polley prunes in October-November and Mathis prunes from May onward, which may be either heavy or "cosmetic" depending on which stage the biennial bearing trees are at. Flowering also occurs at that time and is indicative of what the tree's crop will be next year, provided the orchard doesn't get any severe frosts.

After a decade on the block, Polley believes his orchard won't reach its full potential for some time yet, while Mathis says he won't get much more out of his trees.

Avocado trees are fairly resilient and have only a few pests that need managing, including leaf rollers, thrips and mites. Phytophthora, or root rot, is a disease that in recent years has been well-managed by injecting older trees with phosphate to prevent the fungus from taking hold.

Contractors apply insecticides and foliar fertiliser, with Mathis applying humates to the ground himself. 

Fruit is picked in spring, usually in two picks, by a combination of contractors, family and friends and the orchard owners themselves. 

The first and second grade fruit goes to the local market in New Zealand, and the export fruit is sent to Australia and Asia where demand is strong.

Because of this reputation, New Zealand's relatively young avocado industry is starting to look very positive indeed. Orchard values, production and profitability are all increasing to match increasing overseas and local demand.

Polley and the Mathises agree that the formation of the Avocado Industry Council (AIC) has been good for the industry with its capable leadership, and its own exporter, Avoco, has great vision for the future.

"We like that Avoco doesn't channel all its fruit into Australia," Grace says. "It is getting out there and really developing some good markets, as they know Australia's own market is growing rapidly so we can't just rely on that."

Biennial bearing of fruit (high crop, low crop) has its limitations but clever pruning is helping to grow more fruit in an "off" year. But at the end of the day, the avocado tree has a mind of its own.

"We find it interesting that although Barry and I do things quite differently in terms of pruning and thinning, at the end of the day Mother Nature still rules," Polley says.

"This year's crop was the biggest we've had, but it was accompanied by two major fruit drops in February and April, where the tree basically says I can't carry anymore."

Mathis says it can be a little disconcerting to see so much fruit falling off the tree.

"But as orchardists say, don't look down," he laughs. "Instead, look up – there may be heaps of fruit on the ground, but tonnes still on the trees."

Source: Stuff website

===================================================================================================== (november 4): Thai king death puts temporary hold on avocado exports

First it was tourism, now it's New Zealand avocados.

The impact of the death of Thai king Bhumibol Adulyadej on October 13 has been far reaching, with the start of a period of mourning in which concerts and social events were cancelled.

Even the night life in Bangkok's humming red light district toned down for a week or two.

Avocado exporter Avoco had planned to send 60-70,000 trays to Thailand in the 2016-17 season, but with fewer people dining out and industries temporarily shutting down, export activity to Thailand has slowed, said Avoco and Avanza's market manager for Thailand, Carwyn Williams.

"Sales have definitely changed and we are keeping a close eye on what impact this event will continue to have on avocado export volumes to Thailand," Williams said.

Other exports do not appear to have been hit, or it is too early to tell. Dairy exports make up 48 per cent of New Zealand goods to Thailand, which were worth in total $770 million in 2015, but Fonterra said they have received no reports of problems. The next largest export group is meat at 30 per cent.

T&G Global, which markets apples and kiwifruit, described the situation as "business as usual", although it had put its marketing promotions on hold for the duration of the mourning period.

But it had performed a community service for the hundreds of thousands of people who lined up to pay their respects to the king at the Grand Palace, enduring heat and long queues for up to 12 hours.

T&G staff joined New Zealand ambassador Ben King in handing out free jazz apples to mourners in association with the New Zealand/Thailand Society. Victor Anderson, T&G's country manager in Thailand, said the objective was to help support the Thai people by providing a refreshing and healthy snack.

"Jazz is a premium apple and Thailand, alongside other South-East Asia countries, is a big market for us. This however was not a brand or sales opportunity, purely a chance to support a community at a very difficult time."

Avoco's Williams said it was able to direct more avocados towards South Korea, which has taken 209,000 trays this season. Worth about $6m to the total industry, it is three times the volume exported last year.

Trade has benefited from last year's FTA agreement which saw the 30 per cent tariff on New Zealand avocados drop to 24 per cent this year. The tariff drops 3 per cent annually until it is eliminated in 2024.

New Zealand avocado growers have experienced a bumper season this year, with 5.1 million trays due to be exported, which compares to only 2.5 million last season  - exceeding the previous record of 4.5 million two years ago. 

Nearly 800 avocado growers in Northland and the Bay of Plenty supply Avoco. Harvesting got underway in the Far North in late-August and will continue until February.



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