15 Oct 2019

Cheap avocados: Good for the consumer but selling at a loss

7:05 am on 15 October 2019

Remember the bad old days of the $11 avocado? That was back in May.

Hass avocado

Photo: Wikicommons

The passage of the seasons has subsequently done wonderful things for deprived palates, which were forced to salivate in vain back then.

Vegeland in Christchurch has been advertising avocado at 39 cents each on Facebook.

In Waikato, a roadside stall went further, selling small avocados for $3 for a bag of ten.

However, the industry organisation, New Zealand Avocado, said these prices were unrealistic.

They probably stemmed from the practise of loss-leading, when stores marketed goods at a loss in order to entice people into their shops.

"It actually costs about $1 to grow, put through the supply chain and market a New Zealand avocado," said its chief executive, Jen Scoular.

"So nobody is making a profit when avocados are sold for $1."

Ms Scoular added the world price was $2 per avocado, so people selling way less than that were probably trying to attract value to other aspects of their trade.

Traditionally, the practice of loss-leading lures customers into a shop with the offer of very cheap goods.

That loss is recovered when people discover other things they did not realise they need, and pay a higher price for them.

But loss-leading or not, Jen Scoular said prices for avocados would generally stay low for another couple of months.

If you can get avocados below cost, and buy them in large volumes, what can you do with them?

Food writer Annabel Langbein has produced some ideas - including using the freezer.

"If you make your favourite guacamole, and put in lots of lemon juice so it does not oxidise and go brown, then you can freeze it to eat when avocados are not in season and do not cost 30 cents each," she said.

Ms Langbein said another option was to use avocado as a bulk filler for sweet treats such as chocolate mousse.

She urged people not to cook avocado, as it "tastes revolting", and she could not understand recipes that called for avocado on pizzas.

But she went on to describe a favourite avocado dip.

"If you slice broccoli thinly and massage it, it becomes a bit juicier," she said.

"Then just make a dressing of smashed up avocados and lots of lemon juice and some feta cheese, and put some toasted almonds on top.

"Or you can use something that does not look quite so pretty like hard boiled egg.

"My favourite thing at the moment is to have toast, with almond butter and sliced avocado for breakfast."