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Australia's love affair with avocados continues
22 March 2016

Australia’s love affair with avocados has continued for another year – much to the delight of New Zealand’s largest avocado supply group and its pool of growers.

Retail prices for avocados in Australia reached as high as NZ$7 for a single piece of fruit at the end of January, fuelled by a combination of strong demand from consumers and low volumes being available.

2015-16 was a low crop year nationally with AVOCO handling about 1.53 million export trays – down from 2.8 million trays the year before. However, the shortage of fruit hasn’t slowed customer demand and the supply/demand imbalance means AVOCO’s 700-plus growers can now look forward to rewarding Orchard Gate Returns.

AVOCO director Alistair Young says Australia is still New Zealand’s largest export market for avocados and market activity there greatly influences the value of growers’ fruit.

“There’s been an incredible upswing in Australia’s avocado consumption over the past two years which has been one of the biggest drivers of retail sales.

“But importantly for AVOCO growers, they’re now seeing the benefits of the collaboration between Team Avocado and Primor and the effort we put in to working together to achieve maximum values for their fruit,” he says.

The 2015-16 export season got underway in Northland at the end of August and a few weeks later in the Bay of Plenty. Larger volumes of fruit were flowing by the start of October, with some of the earliest sea shipments destined for the AVANZA markets of Japan, Korea, Thailand and Singapore. Various Asian markets made up about 20 per cent of all fruit supplied to AVOCO and exported through the AVANZA marketing channel this season.

Packing for Australia finished in the second week of February following seven weeks of incredibly high demand from consumers, Mr Young says.

“Our strategy has been to target the strong retail market window we identified for January and February as this is the period when Australia’s domestic crop is very light. We struck it right as values during this period reached unprecedented levels.”

AVOCO predicts the New Year period will continue to generate high values for its growers in years to come, especially after new avocado plantings in Western Australia reach maturity.

This season AVOCO growers were offered compensation payments to delay harvesting their fruit in order to meet the two-month value window being targeted. Director John Carroll says the scheme is likely to continue next season when a much larger national crop is anticipated.

 “Our third season operating as AVOCO has been another successful one but we know next season we’ll be handling much bigger volumes.

“This presents us with some exciting opportunities to extend AVANZA’s reach through Asia where the markets are poised to expand quite rapidly off the back of some really innovative promotional activity and investment.

“At the same time, we’ll be looking to satisfy the growth aspirations of our Australian retail customers who we predict will require good volumes of AVOCO fruit throughout the season.”

 

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