Avocado growers are being urged to lean on Avoco’s technical advisers for support ahead of a season that is likely to require careful management both on-orchard and in increasingly competitive offshore markets.

With Australian growers shaping up to produce a bumper domestic crop, Avoco is expecting less room in the market for large New Zealand volumes, especially in the first half of the season. In this environment, Asian markets serve a critically important function by providing a valuable supply channel for growers whose fruit must be harvested between September and December.

Avoco markets New Zealand fruit in Asia under the AVANZA brand. Last season, Asia was a difficult region to service due to widespread disruption to shipping and logistics caused by the global COVID-19 pandemic. Only 7 per cent of Avoco’s total export volume was shipped to Asia but that figure is scheduled to be much higher in 2021-22.

Marketing and communications manager Steve Trickett says Avoco is looking forward to shipping greater volumes to Asia next season and demonstrating how New Zealand fruit has the quality to command premium values.

“Over the past two seasons, we’ve invested a lot of time and effort into refining our systems right through the supply chain and developing a formula for improving fruit quality performance, both in Australia and Asia.

“The impact that COVID-19 had on shipping meant that our season was cut short prematurely across most seafreight AVANZA markets last year. However, the quality of our fruit that did reach Asia was much improved on what was delivered in the previous two seasons, indicating that our new Quality Business Plan for Asia is making a difference.”

While there is always the possibility of further shipping disruption, Steve says Avoco has the scale and expertise to move increased volumes of fruit to markets in Asia as long as they can be reliably serviced without sacrificing fruit age.

“After our experience last season, we have contingency plans in place should further disruption occur. But with consumption growing in markets such as Thailand, we have all our fingers crossed for a season that gives AVANZA the opportunity to showcase quality fruit which also possesses a unique flavour and texture profile.”

Harvesting for export among Avoco growers will begin in the Far North and Northland in late July or early August. In the Bay of Plenty, fruit typically matures a few weeks later. Avoco’s technical team is now focussed on making sure all growers have the information they need to make the 2021-22 season a success from a quality standpoint.

“Customers in Australia and Asia are keen to receive our fruit. But it is important to also note that we are facing more fruit from other competitive origins in these markets, underscoring the importance of presenting customers with the highest quality New Zealand fruit possible.” says Steve.

“We also want growers to be mindful of their orchard inputs and spray programmes throughout the season so their fruit can be picked for all markets. This gives us the greatest possible flexibility to serve as many markets as possible.”

Avoco’s team has been bolstered this month by the arrival of Richard Kok, who joins Avoco as the company’s new technical manager. He is based in the Bay of Plenty after moving to New Zealand from South Africa.

For nine years, Richard has worked at Westfalia Marketing Africa – part of the multinational Westfalia Fruit Group that supplies fresh and processed produce, including avocados, to international markets. In joining Avoco’s technical team, he supports the efforts of Danni van der Heijden, Jerome Hardy and Colin Partridge in improving fruit quality outcomes and guiding growers on best practice.

Steve says Richard’s appointment demonstrates Avoco’s commitment to making sure that growers benefit from the latest advice and technical know-how.

“In New Zealand, we are constantly learning about how to get the most out of our avocado trees. Avoco growers are fortunate to have access to these highly skilled and experienced technical advisers.  

“We encourage all our growers to access their knowledge by getting along to field days, visit the Avoco website to access resources from the ‘Technical and Scientific Knowledge Base’or to simply contact technical team members for advice.”