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Critical mass key to season's success
4 June 2015

New Zealand’s largest avocado exporter, keen to build on the success it’s achieved in just two seasons, is encouraging more growers to join them.

AVOCO formed in 2013 but it has already fulfilled its vision by securing healthy returns to its growers in a record crop year for the industry. Bay of Plenty growers have received Orchard Gate Returns of more than $15 a tray on an all size average for export fruit.

Director Alistair Young says the success of the 2014-15 season is down to people working together to create value for its 700-plus growers – most of whom have orchards across the Bay.

“There was literally a cast of thousands as growers, harvesters, packers and marketers rolled their sleeves up and got stuck in to managing the ‘big’ one.

“We have proved the worth of working as a collective when facing a big season. Primor and Southern Produce staff are now preparing to do it all again and this time we have the advantage of a big season behind us to fine tune our systems and our market planning. With another season just around the corner, what we want now is for more growers to join us.”

Out of a national export crop of 4.5 million trays, AVOCO handled 2.8 million trays – a healthy share of the volume. Two-thirds of its avocado exports were sent to Australia with the remainder split between the US and Asia and marketed through AVANZA.

Analysis of what occurred in the 10 different international markets AVOCO and AVANZA supplied is important but AVOCO director John Carroll says what matters most to everyone associated with AVOCO are the simple facts around what has been achieved for its grower community in just two seasons since the company was formed.

It was the disastrous results of 2011-12, when exporters flooded the Australian market and values fell to less than $10 a tray, that motivated Southern Produce and Primor to listen to growers calling for an overhaul of the export sector. Agreeing that collaboration was the key to success, the two previous rivals came together in an effort to better manage the flow of fruit.

“We learnt a great deal from the last heavy volume year of 2011-12,” Mr Carroll says. “What’s satisfying now, after another heavy crop, is that we can look back and see how much of a difference this united commercial approach can make to a season for both growers and exporters.”

He says it’s in the number crunching that AVOCO’s strength is revealed.

Three years ago, Southern Produce and Primor exported close to 2.1 million of the 3.7 million trays  shipped offshore, equating to 56% of the volume. Coming together, AVOCO handled 62% of the total export crop this season which is a volume lift of 33% since 2011-12.

This season, AVOCO also had to contend with a bumper crop coming out of Western Australia and a high New Zealand dollar. Despite these challenges, AVOCO’s estimate of the shift in Orchard Gate Return between the two seasons is a lift of 50%.

 “With critical mass, we have the ability to manage harvest volumes and fruit flow better than our competitors, especially during years of heavy volume. it’s pleasing that we’ve been able to prove that AVOCO is a business that can succeed in all market conditions in just our second season.”

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