Despite the current challenges for avocado growers with shipping disruptions due to COVID-19, leading export marketing group Avoco is continually investing in people and its onshore and in-market business. 

 Avoco has made technical and marketing appointments this year. The most recent hire is Technical Manager Richard Kok, who joined Avoco in May. Richard provides a variety of technical support, including fertiliser recommendations, and advice on best practice orchard management to Avoco’s growers within New Zealand aimed at lifting yield and profitability. 

He also communicates with avocado transporters, packers  and shipping companies to ensure growers’ fruit preserves its premium quality as it moves through the supply chain from orchards to markets in Australia. In addition, Richard provides technical support with fruit handling, and managing quality and market dynamics in the AVANZA markets. 

Originally from South Africa, Richard joined Avoco from Westfalia Marketing Africa. Richard says he’s enjoying getting to know New Zealand growers whose priorities are similar to those of their peers in South Africa. 

“New Zealand’s cooler, winter rain presents different climatic challenges but all the main issues are the same: nutrition and tree health, tree manipulation, disease control, quality management and picking strategies.” 

Turning to marketing, Tim Carroll, son of Avoco director John Carroll, joined the company earlier this year as an Export Marketing Executive. His role will support Avoco’s export team responsible for Australian retail and wholesale business, as well as AVANZA markets, predominately in Japan.

Tim’s main childhood memories are of John fielding calls on family road trips and speaking at length whilst he and his siblings patiently waited in the back of the car. 

“During family holidays to Australia, we always used to squeeze in a trip to the produce markets. Little did I know these trips would be the start of something.” 

With a background in international sales involving Fast Moving Consumer Goods (FMCG) and more recently, working as an export product manager for a company that exports apples, cherries and other blueberries, Tim has earned his industry stripes. 

“My initial experience in FMCG gave me good insight into grocery and retail business and an appreciation for the mutual benefits that come from building relationships and working closely with customers to satisfy their requirements. 

“The recent work experiences have helped me to understand the wonderful complexities that are associated with exporting fresh produce and all the steps of the supply chain from orchard to overseas market.” 

Marketing and communications manager Steve Trickett says that while the current export year is a test for all, with daily and sometimes hourly changes in vessel schedules and port arrival timings to shippings, Avoco is here for the long haul and has a positive plan in place to build a resilient business to secure growers’ prospects for the future. 

“What we, as Avoco, established eight years ago works well and has delivered strong results for growers. Southern Produce and Primor continue to invest in Avoco with experienced, quality people across the supply chain.”   

Steve says this depth of experience will help the business navigate what is shaping up to be the most challenging season for growers since 2003. 

“The current state of play is likely to be the norm throughout the season. It will require flexibility, cooperation and patience by all participants. This is an unprecedented challenge needing to be managed day by day, week by week.” 

Packing for Australia’s retail market got underway in August and the first shipments of New Zealand fruit were also sent to Hong Kong, China, Thailand, Singapore, Taiwan, India and Japan over successive weeks. Packing for Korea started at the end of September.