The show goes on, but with­out the in­dus­try

The Orchardist - - Contents - By Les­ley Board

The Katikati Avocado, Food and Wine Fes­ti­val on Jan­uary 18 is ex­pected to be another great fam­ily day out. Or­gan­is­ers say fes­ti­val-go­ers can ex­pect a tempt­ing ar­ray of food, ex­cel­lent wines and en­ter­tain­ment, in­clud­ing Jazz de Vice, Shenani­ganz Ir­ish Band, Celtic mu­si­cians Paul & Penny and The Reev­ers – a group of lo­cal doc­tors with more than med­i­cal tal­ent. Busi­nesses sell­ing avocado prod­ucts or mar­ket­ing the fruit both here and over­seas will be tak­ing part and the ru­mour per­sists that Katikati will even­tu­ally claim the ti­tle of Avocado Cap­i­tal of New Zealand.

No in­dus­try in­volve­ment

But this sum­mer there will be no in­dus­try-spon­sored in­volve­ment. Karen Lee, chair­man of Katikati Li­ons which or­gan­ises the an­nual fes­ti­val along with Katikati Pakeke Li­ons, said NZ Avocado had de­cided not to par­tic­i­pate.

“They were happy to re­main in­volved if we planned to turn it into a ma­jor iconic event, sim­i­lar to the an­nual Bluff Oys­ter Fes­ti­val which at­tracts around 5,000 peo­ple. That would be a huge un­der­tak­ing for our vol­un­teers though. While we would like to see even more peo­ple through the gate (on av­er­age it's about 1,500) we have de­cided to stay with the cur­rent for­mat, at least for this year.”

Karen said they had re­ceived good feed­back from last Jan­uary's stall hold­ers. The event, now in its 6th year,

at­tracts many hol­i­day-mak­ers from out­side the re­gion and that's seen as a good op­por­tu­nity to pro­mote av­o­ca­dos to those who don't reg­u­larly eat them or know how to pre­pare them. All pro­ceeds ben­e­fit other causes – this year profit from the raf­fle goes to the Waipuna Hospice and fes­ti­val in­come to the Katikati Her­itage Mu­seum.

Where was the sup­port?

Last year, from an avocado in­dus­try point of view, sup­port from ac­tual grow­ers, pack­ers and ex­porters was thin on the ground. Out of 11 cur­rent ex­porters, Seeka and Just Av­o­ca­dos were the only ones to mount dis­plays, serv­ing up masses of free avocado ice cream, sell­ing avocado oil and run­ning out of the very pop­u­lar $2 deal for Asahi beer and sushi with av­o­ca­dos.

In­dus­try chief ex­ec­u­tive Jen Scoular said then that grow­ers fre­quently crit­i­cised the lo­cal mar­ket­ing of their prod­uct and the fes­ti­val was an ex­cel­lent op­por­tu­nity to bol­ster pub­lic un­der­stand­ing of the ver­sa­til­ity of av­o­ca­dos.

“We are open to ideas on how to make our par­tic­i­pa­tion in the fes­ti­val even bet­ter and even­tu­ally I would like to see us strong enough to stage a stand-alone New Zealand avocado event.”

Pro­mo­Tions strat­egy

This year how­ever, the in­dus­try has had a re-think about its in­volve­ment. Jen sums it up:

“We have a pro­mo­tions strat­egy with a strong fo­cus on rais­ing the vis­i­bil­ity and aware­ness of av­o­ca­dos with con­sumers in the New Zealand mar­ket. Part of this has been the ap­point­ment of Na­dia Lim, our NZ Avocado am­bas­sador, which has been a fan­tas­tic as­so­ci­a­tion.

“We re­view and as­sess all of our pro­mo­tions ac­tiv­i­ties to en­sure that they meet the needs of the in­dus­try.

“NZ Avocado has in­vested into each of the 2012 and 2013 fes­ti­vals with a large mar­quee, celebrity chef cook­ing demon­stra­tions, and var­i­ous ac­tiv­i­ties in­clud­ing sam­ples, gua­camole com­pe­ti­tions and chil­dren’s games.

“the event at­tracts many hol­i­day-mak­ers from out­side the re­gion and that's seen as a good op­por­tu­nity to pro­mote av­o­ca­dos to those who don't reg­u­larly eat them or know how to pre­pare them.”

“Our vi­sion for the fes­ti­val was to help de­velop an iconic avocado fes­ti­val which would have been pos­i­tive for Katikati, av­o­ca­dos and the gen­eral pub­lic.

“The fes­ti­val or­gan­is­ers have stated to us that they do not want to lift at­ten­dees sig­nif­i­cantly in the com­ing years and do not want to cre­ate an iconic event.”

Jen said the fes­ti­val worked well for the Li­ons’ ob­jec­tives and they had done a fan­tas­tic job rais­ing money for nom­i­nated com­mu­nity causes.

“How­ever this event in its cur­rent for­mat is not the right event for con­tin­ued in­vest­ment of in­dus­try pro­mo­tion funds.”

The fes­ti­val is held on the Ure­tara Do­main with plenty of shady trees, and gates are open from 11.30am to 6pm. Early bird tick­ets are $16; or $20 at the gate. Chil­dren un­der 18 with an adult are free.

For queries or par­tic­i­pa­tion email man­ or phone Peter Charl­ton on 07 549 0524.

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