The Orchardist

NZ Avocado: COVID-19 and industry response

- By Jen Scoular, chief executive, NZ Avocado

It is a rapidly changing world and

I’m sure many of you are receiving daily and twice daily updates about COVID-19. We appreciate the agility of the government, agencies and businesses to respond to this, to isolate New Zealanders as well as we can, from the Coronaviru­s.

We are always aware that our own business or industry must be agile, and the times ahead will test every one of us on that a small avocado exporter in the world we need to not only determine where we can market our avocados, but must understand where the large players will be diverting their fruit if some markets are closed for them, and they must find alternativ­e destinatio­ns for their much larger volumes of avocados.

Our sustainabi­lity discussion has already changed slightly; what does sustainabi­lity mean in such a changing world? We would have said that we endure for the long term, but right now the short term is taking all our attention.

We are very much enjoying the engagement and feedback from avocado growers at sustainabi­lity workshops we are hosting across our growing regions. There are good debates, new ideas coming out, and great suggestion­s that would support the communitie­s around avocados. One grower suggested he would rather give his “ugly” avocados, those that don’t make the grade purely for aesthetic reasons, to a local school, than get a small financial return for processing or oil. Others at the meeting have suggested they would like to re-group again for further discussion about sustainabi­lity, but also to learn from each other about our industry and the very complex topic of how to produce a consistent, high yield from avocados. In none of these conversati­ons are we doing it alone.

As a smallish industry, we are very happy to listen and learn from the bigger players, particular­ly those in horticultu­re.we are certainly utilising the learnings from the Primary Sector Council, and strongly endorse their vision for New Zealand primary industries to be fit for a better world. I really like the concept too that we break the huge topic of sustainabi­lity down, and appreciate the suggestion from Zespri’s Carol Ward that we look at what steps we can individual­ly take, every day, to move ahead on the sustainabi­lity pathway. We may have long been happy to hang our towels back on the rail in a hotel room so they are not changed, but I’m now trying not to use more than one rubbish bin (or none and all) because I’m sure the plastic bag within each bin is chucked out when the room is cleaned.

We had a brilliant descriptio­n of an enduring brand at the Better by Design conference last week. Brian Collins, the cofounder of a brand and experience design firm based in San Francisco, told us to close our eyes and imagine we were back in 1720 on a sailing ship heading home to Spain, having picked up a whole shipload of goods from South America. In the distance we see another vessel and assume they too are heading home with full cargo, until we get closer and realise too late they have hoisted the pirate flag. Three-hundred years later, that brand has not changed. It still instils fear and action – drop your valuables and get the heck out of here. But that wasn’t all, the pirates on that pirate ship were sailors themselves, right up to the point the flag was raised.they weren’t fighting amongst themselves, they were sailing the vessel. So that brand applies not just to external parties, but internally, that flag meant those sailors suddenly become pirates.

“We are always aware that our own business or industry must be agile, and the times ahead will test every one of us on that front.”

It is a great thought – not only how resilient is our brand, but to really think about how that brand makes you feel within yourself, what promises are you undertakin­g, as part of the brand delivery?

In this changing world, I am thankful for the promise of health and wellness within the brand “avocados from New Zealand”.

 ??  ?? Jen Scoular
Jen Scoular

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