2 Apr 2014

Avocado industry aims to grow

2:22 pm on 2 April 2014

Avocado growers are set to benefit from a new partnership between their governing body and the Ministry for Primary Industries.

The five-year "Go Global" programme is aimed at tripling productivity to 12 tonnes per hectare and quadrupling returns to $280 million a year by 2023.

The major obstacle to those aims are the fruit's inherent nature of low and irregular bearing.

The chief executive officer of the Avocado Industry Council, Jen Scoular, says one year there is a good crop and the following year, not so good.

She also says environmental factors specific to New Zealand, such as frost, do not help, and best practice is not evident at all orchards.

"We've actually got growers who are already consistently producing high yields and what we've never done is to say 'What are they doing, that everyone else isn't?'"

Ms Scoular says it's that type of expertise that will be shared through Go Global, which in her view will transform the sector, making it better-performing, capable of opening up new markets and boosting profitability.

Asian markets targetted

She says New Zealand aims to become the avocado supplier to the just-developing Asian markets.

"Japan probably, possibly, has the highest consumption in Asia," Ms Scoular says. "I think the consumption in Japan is one avocado per person per year.

"But when we look at the demand and the global trends in Asia for food that is healthy, they are very interested in the health attributes of avocados."

Ms Scoular says Asian peoples are also very interested in the potential of avocado hair and skin beauty products.

She says the sector will also borrow the so-called "New Zealand category story" the Government has developed for other produce.... "The perfect growing conditions, the long sunshine, the safety of our industry systems: we'll wrap that round the avocado in terms of developing some collateral about avocados from New Zealand for our exporters to utilise in the market."

She says the industry will also focus on improving the domestic market.