>>AV­O­CADO CON­FER­ENCE Au­da­cious av­o­cado goals

The Orchardist - - >>Avocado Conference - By Denise Landow

An­other 5000 hectares of av­o­ca­dos could be planted by 2040, ac­cord­ing to Av­o­cado NZ chief ex­ec­u­tive, Jen Scoular.

“Then we’re get­ting to a bil­lion-dol­lar in­dus­try,” she told the New Zealand Av­o­cado In­ter­na­tional In­dus­try Con­fer­ence.

“Our in­dus­try is ex­tremely well poised to meet our au­da­cious goals. We’re en­sur­ing we have as much struc­ture, in­for­ma­tion and con­nec­tion in place to help you and the rest of our in­dus­try to meet th­ese au­da­cious goals.”

There are cur­rently 1400 or­chardists grow­ing 4000 hectares of av­o­ca­dos with 800ha due to be pro­duc­tive within two years. So by 2030 an­other 2.4 mil­lion trays is fore­cast to be pro­duced out of the ad­di­tional plant­ings. Net sales in 2013 were worth $70 mil­lion and a plan was set for $280m by 2023 with the in­dus­try al­ready at $200m.

All av­o­cado or­chards have been GIS-mapped, im­por­tant from both re­search and biose­cu­rity per­spec­tives. Re­gional or­chard per­for­mance is recorded and placed in best, good and stan­dard cat­e­gories, with in­creas­ing per­for­mance seen so far.

“We delved into a lot of in­for­ma­tion about th­ese or­chards; look­ing at prun­ing strate­gies be­cause un­der­stand­ing this has a sig­nif­i­cant in­flu­ence on ir­reg­u­lar bearing and or­chard per­for­mance.”

There’s been a sig­nif­i­cant change in or­chard gate re­turns from ex­ports over the last five years, with ir­reg­u­lar vol­umes the biggest chal­lenge. Un­til now the in­dus­try has mostly ex­ported all Class 1 fruit but this year, the ex­port mar­ket­ing strat­egy changed al­low­ing for the ex­port of Class 2 fruit to food ser­vice mar­kets.

There are 11 ex­port mar­kets; Aus­tralia, South Korea,Thai­land, Ja­pan, Sin­ga­pore, China, Tai­wan, Malaysia, Hong Kong and the Pa­cific Is­lands. And while most ex­ports are from the Bay of Plenty to North­land cli­mate change may al­low more south­ern ar­eas to grow av­o­ca­dos in fu­ture, she said.

NZ ex­porters cur­rently place 80 per­cent of their vol­ume into Aus­tralia where mar­ket share is good due to strong re­la­tion­ships that have been care­fully nur­tured. Such work couldn’t be un­der­es­ti­mated go­ing for­ward, she said.

Un­til two years ago, Ja­pan was the largest Asian mar­ket for av­o­ca­dos from NZ but now South Korea has taken over. Thai­land, Sin­ga­pore and Tai­wan are also now recog­nised as im­por­tant mar­kets. In­dia is a valu­able de­vel­op­ing mar­ket with an abil­ity to ab­sorb the ad­di­tional trays the in­dus­try hopes to pro­duce in the next 10-15 years.

Aus­tralia is cur­rently pro­gress­ing the phy­tosan­i­tary re­quire­ments that will en­able Chilean av­o­ca­dos to be im­ported across the Tas­man in a year’s time.

“It’s def­i­nitely a risk for us,” she said. Last year a cam­paign was de­vel­oped talk­ing about Aus­trala­sia, to dif­fer­en­ti­ate from av­o­ca­dos grown in South Amer­ica.

In the United States av­o­cado con­sump­tion has dou­bled over the past 10 years and Mex­i­can ex­ports jumped from 11 mil­lion kgs in 2000 to 800m kgs in 2015. Chi­nese im­ports are in­creas­ing 250 per­cent year-on-year.

“We have the sup­ply chain in­fra­struc­ture in place and we need to sort out more labour but our ex­port mar­kets are be­ing de­vel­oped to take th­ese sorts of vol­umes.”

Ev­i­dence-based re­search on sus­tain­abil­ity was also re­quired

“One hectare of av­o­cado pro­duc­tion pro­duces half as much pro­tein as one hectare of dairy pro­duc­tion,” she said.

“Not only are we plant-based but we’ve got the pro­tein. On this equa­tion, we’re do­ing well.”

It was dif­fi­cult to mea­sure so­cial me­dia’s im­pact but Face­book fol­low­ers had surged from un­der 30,000 in 2016 to al­most 80,000. And dig­i­tal plat­forms could be used to ask con­sumers what they thought.

The in­dus­try now needed to work out how to make the next step change with the in­dus­try’s Pri­mary Growth Part­ner­ship a “fan­tas­tic mech­a­nism that’s helped us change what we think, the way we do things and col­lab­o­rate to­wards our ad­vance­ment”.

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