>>AVOCADO CONFERENCE Audacious avocado goals
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”.