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A case of evolution rather than revolution
3 August 2017

The emergence of AVOCO four years ago rejuvenated New Zealand’s avocado industry, secured its future and put more money in grower’s pockets.

Te Puke grower Ron Bailey shared his views on the influence of AVOCO on the industry during an episode of rural TV programme Country Calendar last month. He’s now encouraging more growers who are weighing up their supply options to seriously consider the benefits of supporting what has become New Zealand’s biggest export supply group.

“It’s always been a case of evolution rather than revolution,” says Ron. “The coming together of Southern Produce and Primor to create AVOCO has strengthened the industry and growers are now benefiting from what was, at the time, a real game changer.

“There were growers who took a ‘wait and see’ approach to the whole thing but there’s plenty of evidence to show how AVOCO’s collaborative business model has lifted values for everyone and made growers feel more secure about investing and planting again.  

“I enjoy being part of a group that’s forward-thinking, results-focussed and being grower-led, AVOCO always has the best interests of growers at heart.”

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

With family taking responsibility for various aspects of the overall farming enterprise, Ron has more time to take on active roles in the avocado industry. He has served as New Zealand Avocado Industry Council chairman and currently serves on AVOCO’s Grower Relations Committee.

Filming for Country Calendar coincided with a promotional video for AVOCO and took place during the 2016-17 season when the company exported close to 2.9 million trays. Just over 80% of its crop went to Australia, with the bulk of all shipments (63%) supplying Australian supermarkets.

Its remaining export volume was sent to Asia where consumers in markets like Japan, Korea and Singapore continue to discover new ways to include avocados in their diet.

AVOCO has adopted a lead role in Asian market development since taking 100% ownership of the AVANZA marketing brand last year. Although there will be fewer shipments to Asia this year due to a smaller national avocado crop, Asian markets will remain a focus for AVOCO long-term.

“AVANZA provides a helpful market channel for New Zealand’s early harvest fruit and that will always be the case,” says AVOCO director John Carroll. “We’ll continue to service our priority Asian markets in a low crop year. The irregular bearing nature of avocados makes life challenging but we simply work with what we have and make adjustments to timing and volume.”

With demand for fruit in Australia soaring and markets like Korea developing an appetite for avocados faster than anticipated, AVOCO aims to ensure it’s well positioned to maximise opportunities when they present themselves in high volume years, says AVOCO director Alistair Young.

“We’d love for more growers to share in the benefits that come from supplying a company that is focussed on connecting growers with the best customers all around the world.”

 

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