23 Dec 2014

Avocado industry waits for China clearance

3:25 pm on 23 December 2014

The New Zealand avocado industry is waiting for clearance to export to China, as it expands its trade into Asian markets.

The Ministry for Primary Industries was negotiating an access agreement for China and avocados are at the top of its priority list for horticultural products.

Chief executive of New Zealand Avocado Jen Scoular said only Chile and Mexico had access to China for the fruit.

But she said avocado industry representatives attended a fruit and vegetable fair in Beijing last month, where Chinese officials indicated they saw no technical reasons why New Zealand should not be granted access as well.

"We participated in an education swapping and information sharing seminar with the Chinese officials, which really raised the visibility for avocados in China and the feedback we got from the Chinese officials was that they couldn't see that there would be technical reasons not to allow avocados from New Zealand into China, that said, there are always political parts of these sorts of negotiations and obviously MPI need to very carefully negotiate, both countries always need to get value out of these sort of negotiations.

"South Korea is one of our top three Asian markets and it's one of our markets within our Primary Growth Partnership Programme and as a result of the FTA, that all goes through in March 2015, our 30 percent tariff will be stepped down on an annual basis over ten years, which is very good news for us."

She said another bit of good news had been a lower than forecast harvest in New Zealand's biggest overseas avocado market Australia, which took about 70-percent of the exports.

"One, demand seems to be very very strong in Australia and retail all increasing orders but the second part of that which is fantastic for New Zealand, is that the Western Australia in particular crop is not as large as initially forecast.

"We had anticipated that both New Zealand and Western Australia had very large crops; our forecast has remained the same but theirs has come off considerably and that really allows a great space when demand is very good in the summer period in Australian market for avocados in New Zealand."

She said about 70 percent of avocado exports would have gone by Christmas.