In­creas­ing aware­ness around fruit theft

We’re hav­ing an ex­cit­ing start to the New Zealand av­o­cado sea­son with a very well at­tended me­dia launch in Auck­land and lots of me­dia at­ten­tion – both good and bad.

The Orchardist - - Contents -

Na­dia Lim and Dr Nic Gill helped us share some great nu­tri­tion mes­sages at the sea­son launch and our au­di­ence shared it won­der­fully well across their so­cial me­dia. The new re­search we had showed that New Zealand grown av­o­ca­dos con­tain double the amount of vi­ta­min B6 and 20% more fo­late that av­o­ca­dos grown in other coun­tries. Just an­other rea­son to love the amaz­ing av­o­cado.

Soon af­ter that me­dia pub­lished a story about the poor con­di­tions in Mex­ico for grow­ing av­o­ca­dos and we had to let New Zealan­ders know that only New Zealand grown av­o­ca­dos are avail­able in New Zealand. This sur­prises many con­sumers. We have found through in­store tast­ings and so­cial me­dia that con­sumers seem to as­sume av­o­ca­dos are im­ported. We cre­ated a great lit­tle video that’s avail­able on our web­site to share that great story.

Fol­low­ing this was a re­newed in­ter­est in me­dia from New Zealand and Aus­tralia about a dif­fer­ent and chal­leng­ing topic – fruit theft.

NZ Av­o­cado has been work­ing with the New Zealand Po­lice in re­cent sea­sons to in­crease aware­ness of the is­sue of av­o­cado theft in com­mu­ni­ties where av­o­ca­dos are grown, and with fruit and veg­etable shop own­ers that we know are of­ten tar­geted by traders of stolen av­o­ca­dos.

Po­lice have shown great sup­port for the av­o­cado in­dus­try hav­ing re­ceived nine re­ported thefts in West­ern Bay of Plenty be­tween May and July. They have been proac­tively vis­it­ing fruit and veg­etable stores across Bay of Plenty, Waikato and South Auck­land to ed­u­cate shop own­ers on the con­se­quences of av­o­cado theft.

Grow­ers are pas­sion­ate about their av­o­ca­dos and their or­chards. This is their liveli­hood and they are of­ten liv­ing on the or­chard, so it’s their home that is be­ing vi­o­lated. Av­o­cado grow­ers are need­ing to se­cure their prop­erty with high fences with barbed wire, se­cu­rity gates and up­graded se­cu­rity sys­tems, some more fun­da­men­tal than oth­ers. This goes very con­trary to how we as New Zealan­ders ex­pect to live, feel­ing safe and se­cure in our own homes.

We strongly sup­port the po­lice mes­sage that busi­ness own­ers re­ceiv­ing and sell­ing stolen av­o­ca­dos need to give thought to the av­o­cado busi­ness owner whose liveli­hood they are de­stroy­ing. If a shop owner know­ingly pur­chases stolen av­o­ca­dos, they could be charged with re­ceiv­ing stolen

prop­erty, which car­ries a max­i­mum im­pris­on­ment of seven years.

Of­fend­ers steal­ing av­o­ca­dos can be charged with bur­glary and face a max­i­mum penalty of 10 years’ im­pris­on­ment.

In July, NZ Av­o­cado worked with the New Zealand po­lice me­dia team to de­velop a news re­lease tar­geted at ed­u­cat­ing fruit shop own­ers.

Fol­low­ing the re­sult­ing me­dia en­quiry from na­tion­wide news ser­vices, NZ Av­o­cado fa­cil­i­tated the film­ing of a New­shub tele­vi­sion news seg­ment in­volv­ing Sergeant Trevor Brown of West­ern Bay Po­lice, Tau­ranga green gro­cer David Ste­wart and av­o­cado grow­ers Robin Han­vey and Max­ine Gra­ham. The seg­ment was shown on na­tion­wide tele­vi­sion news.

Just this week we have had en­quiries from Fairfax Me­dia, The Guardian UK, The AM Show, ABC Ra­dio Mel­bourne, ABC Ra­dio Perth, New­stalk ZB, Ra­dio NZ, and by the time you read this we would have wrapped up film­ing with Seven Sharp.

Dave Flett, a Bay of Plenty grower and a NZAGA & AIC Board mem­ber, has re­cently joined the Po­lice & Ru­ral Stake­hold­ers Part­ner­ship as an av­o­cado rep­re­sen­ta­tive.

The Po­lice & Ru­ral Stake­hold­ers Part­ner­ship pro­motes a col­lab­o­ra­tive ap­proach be­tween ru­ral com­mu­ni­ties and the po­lice to raise vis­i­bil­ity for agri­cul­ture crime and re­duce is­sues for farm­ers and grow­ers.

Not only do the grow­ers suf­fer. Av­o­ca­dos stolen from prop­er­ties are of­ten too im­ma­ture to ever ripen prop­erly. The con­sumer gets a poor eat­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. They may have been sprayed re­cently, with­out the con­sumer be­ing aware.The con­sumer gets a po­ten­tially dan­ger­ous eat­ing ex­pe­ri­ence. The prob­lem ex­ists not only for af­fected grow­ers but also av­o­cado lov­ing New Zealan­ders who buy stolen fruit. As a con­sumer, al­ways ask where your av­o­ca­dos come from. Our av­o­ca­dos have a good sup­ply chain and the seller of av­o­ca­dos should be able to tell you where the av­o­ca­dos came from. It is hoped that pro-ac­tive ed­u­ca­tion of store own­ers and the public will help make it more dif­fi­cult for the traders of stolen av­o­ca­dos to sell stolen fruit.

The mes­sage from the po­lice to store own­ers is “Sup­port or­chardists, your fel­low busi­ness own­ers, and don’t pur­chase these stolen av­o­ca­dos. If we work to­gether, we can com­bat this is­sue.”


Ze­spri chair­man Peter McBride said the high yields and late start to the New Zealand sea­son meant lower per­tray re­turns for Ze­spri Green but con­tin­ued strong per­hectare re­turns for the Green busi­ness.

“A par­tic­u­lar high­light was the per­for­mance of Sun Gold which saw a sharp in­crease in both vol­ume and per-tray re­turns – up 39% to $98,838 per hectare and 5% per tray to $8.64.”

The an­nual meet­ing re­ported on Ze­spri’s fi­nan­cial year to March 31, cov­er­ing the per­for­mance of New Zealand ki­wifruit sold in the 2016 sea­son with sales run­ning from April to Novem­ber each year and Ze­spri’s counter-sea­sonal North­ern Hemi­sphere sea­son with fruit sold from Oc­to­ber to March. Most of Ze­spri’s fruit is from New Zealand and the company also sources fruit from Italy, France, Korea and Ja­pan to sup­ply key re­tail cus­tomers with Ze­spri-branded fruit all year round.

Here in New Zealand, Ze­spri runs four prod­uct pools to sup­ply the mar­ket: Ze­spri Green, Ze­spri Green Or­ganic, Ze­spri Gold and Ze­spri Sweet Green.


Mr McBride out­lined to share­hold­ers the growth in Ze­spri Global Sup­ply, Ze­spri’s 12-month busi­ness.

“Vol­umes in this busi­ness grew from 14.5 mil­lion trays to 16.6 mil­lion trays for the re­ported sea­son with sales in this busi­ness grow­ing from $183.6 mil­lion in 2015/16 to $215.6 mil­lion in the re­ported pe­riod with con­tribut­ing op­er­at­ing profit grow­ing from $10.4 mil­lion to $11.9 mil­lion. A high­light was the strong gold growth of 46 per­cent from the pre­vi­ous sea­son (from 3.6 mil­lion trays in 2015/16 to 5.3 mil­lion trays) and the ex­tra 1,800 hectares of Sun Gold li­cence to be al­lo­cated in Europe over the next five years will see Euro­pean vol­umes quadru­ple over the next five years.”


Ze­spri chief ex­ec­u­tive Lain Jager ex­plained Ze­spri’s cor­po­rate in­come comes from four main rev­enue streams.

Net profit af­ter tax more than dou­bled from $35.8 mil­lion to $73.7 mil­lion, due mainly to the $67.2 mil­lion in li­cence rev­enue from the New Zealand SunGold ten­der in 2016.

Of­fi­cial res­o­lu­tions from the meet­ing in­clud­ing elec­tions for the Ze­spri board and the di­rec­tor re­mu­ner­a­tion board, along with ap­prov­ing the an­nual ac­counts and ap­point­ing the au­di­tor.

More sig­nif­i­cantly Mr McBride spoke about a spe­cial gen­eral meet­ing planned for March next year where Ze­spri will seek share­holder ap­proval for con­sti­tu­tional changes to align share­hold­ing more closely with pro­duc­tion fol­low­ing the re­cently an­nounced changes to the Ki­wifruit Ex­port Reg­u­la­tions.

Lain Jager says the in­dus­try is in good heart. “Strong re­turns and con­fi­dence are un­der­pin­ning strong or­chard val­ues in the sec­tor and Ze­spri is fo­cused on de­liv­er­ing value for grow­ers by in­vest­ing to grow de­mand around the world.”

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