Avocado export supply group AVOCO is confident growers understand the value in continuing to supply off-shore markets despite heavy demand for fruit at home.
A low national crop this season means there is a shortage of fruit, with demand in both the domestic and export markets outstripping supply.
AVOCO directors John Carroll and Alistair Young.
This has created competition between domestic suppliers and exporters for growers’ fruit but AVOCO director Alistair Young says most growers still see value in supporting the export markets, especially Australia.
“Australia simply can’t grow enough avocados to fill the demand they face. New Zealand fills that gap and for us, Australia is still the highest paying market in the world. Growers aren’t likely to forget that in a hurry.”
In Australia, AVOCO fruit competes for retail space with Australia’s own domestic crop. Climatic conditions and biennial bearing has forced many growers there, especially in Western Australia, to revise down their crop estimates, creating a high-value market opportunity for AVOCO early next year.
This year’s harvest started in the Bay of Plenty in early September with growers having already made their first pick. AVOCO is encouraging its growers to delay a second pick for as long as possible in order to supply Australia after the New Year when fruit will be larger and returns are likely to be at their highest.
“Growers like to get their fruit off early for orchard husbandry reasons but we believe there will be a real financial benefit in targeting the December-February window.”
The 2014-15 season was a record year for the industry with New Zealand growers producing 4.5 million trays. This year, avocado volumes are down 40 per cent.
The low volumes create significant challenges for exporters like AVOCO and its marketing partner AVANZA who have invested heavily in developing markets all through Asia where new consumption growth has been generated.
This season AVOCO has to make the 1.4 million export trays from its 700-plus growers stretch over seven markets, including Australia.
AVOCO director John Carroll says the lure of a high-value Australian market is lined up against the reality of needing to keep customers happy across Asia.
“Our aim is to ensure there remains strong interest in AVANZA avocados, despite the reduced volume. We’ve maintained a presence in all our Asian markets and continued with retail demonstrations and other high-profile activity, such as having an avocado smoothie wagon on the streets of Japan.
“Our customers there are willing to accept that due to the supply/demand imbalance, values will be higher and that’s good news for our growers.”
Keeping these customers happy despite the fruit shortage is important because Asian markets, especially Japan, will be called on to take much larger volumes again next year.
“It’s early days but many growers are reporting a heavy fruit set for next year. A much larger crop will mean the Asian markets will once again play a critical role.”