with Erica Faber
Just Avocados reported strong returns and quality for the 2020-21 season despite the challenges of Covid-19 and a higher than usual percentage of small fruit. Highlights of the season were shared with growers mid-May at events in Omokoroa and Whangarei.
General manager of investor relations and supply Andrew Cutfield began by thanking Just Avocados growers saying they adjusted very well to the shift in plans caused by Covid-19 disruptions and the necessary strategy to hold and size small fruit.
“We want to thank our growers for their patience and accommodation of shifting timelines and plans last season,” says Andrew.
“Multiple lock downs in Auckland added some difficulty for harvest, transport, and audits. We also saw at the start of the season that fruit was coming off quite small and we were concerned about the impact on returns, so we really appreciate growers reacting well when we asked you to size pick and restrict that volume of small fruit.”
Andrew says that size picking required patience, changes to plans, and multiple picks but the upside of this strategy was an increase to returns by upwards of $0.85 OGR per tray over the total volume harvested.
Good quality was a significant highlight of the 2020-21 season for Just Avocados.
“We are really happy with the figure for total marketable fruit that came out of our Katikati packhouse. The best orchard saw 99.1 per cent of its fruit marketed across export and local markets. Across all orchards through the packhouse, we averaged 97 per cent across the season – a three per cent reject rate versus an industry rate of around eight per cent is something we are really proud of for our growers and contributes greatly to our growers’ total orchard profitability.”
Presenting good quality fruit in market amid significant shipping delays and resource challenges at port was something that Jacob Darling general manager of sales and marketing says his team managed very well.
“We did a lot of work in the past season on quality control and measuring temperature within the containers. We worked on minimising the pick to load timeframe to get the fruit into containers as quickly as possible. This was to try and save as many days as we could on shore so that if we did lose a couple of days in transit due to delays, we still had time up our sleeves.”
Jacob says that the team is really pleased with the results achieved for last season.
“Pool one was finalised and fully paid out in February 2021 and averaged an OGR of $24.00 across all sizes 16 to 42. Our premium sizes were paid out at $27.30 OGR for key sizes. Pool two will be fully paid out in June; however, our premium sizes are forecast to be upwards of $30.00 OGR.”
For the season ahead, Just Avocados will continue to offer a range of marketing options for growers to choose from. Andrew says Just Avocados provides options that put growers’ needs at the centre of their operation.
“This season there is no change in what we are talking about in terms of our focus – it’s on increasing your profitability and that’s all around your orchard gate return. I think everyone is becoming comfortable with our pool one and pool two scenario and the option of consignment. It is interesting to see how different growers are playing those options.
“Of our top performing orchards from an OGR per hectare perspective, in the top five, four of the orchards were in both pools. The harvest strategy is a blend of what you want as a grower in terms of cash flow requirements, profitability, and orchard health and what we are trying to achieve for your orchard in market.”
Andrew shared that the crop for 2021-22 across their grower base is up on last year by 10 per cent.
“Everything we do in terms of workshops and tech transfer is around return crop and it is really encouraging to see that at this point in time we are looking at an increase in production off our same grower base. Most growers set a great crop two years ago and harvested a great crop last season and they have set a good crop for this season also, that’s a really exciting trend.”