The state of the avocado industry in New Zealand

Who likes eating avocados? If recent history is anything to go by, pretty much everyone! Ten years ago when I started my current role, a few mates of mine gave me a bit of a ribbing for taking up a job in the avocado sector. ‘What's an avocado?’ They asked, and ‘Who wants to buy them?’

Well, fast forward to now and I look at the growth the industry has seen and the popularity of avocados. Apparently it is now the most ‘instagrammed’ fruit on the plant, and is the ‘Oprah Winfrey’ of the fruit bowl (I am pretty sure these are compliments?!)

The graph below shows the growth in the domestic market. An almost doubling of value in 5 years, and in 2016/17 we are expecting value of $45m +

Total industry value for the 2016/17 season will come close to $200m, making it New Zealand’s third largest horticultural product after kiwifruit and apples.
But what for the future?  Well, consumer demand is continuing to grow.  Where I work, at Trevelyans Pack and Cool in Te Puke, we have set up a mobile friendly website for New Zealand consumers to purchase their avocados online - Bayfarms. We now have a strong Facebook following and have begun supplying restaurant chains and childcare centres.

For all the consumer demand, growers have to be making money right?  Well they are, and returns are now rivalling kiwifruit.  As a result, growers are planting more hectares, and trees are in high demand.  Our company has started growing trees to supply the market, and is venturing into high value, disease resistant and large producing clonal varieties.  This requires a high level of expertise, and has resulted in us hiring new highly skilled staff to cater for this growth (accompanying picture shows the avocado team at Trevelyans, Dr Jonathan Cutting, Danni van der Heijden and Daniel Birnie).

At an industry level, there is a goal to achieve total value of $280m by 2023.  To assist in achieving this goal, a Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) has been entered into with the government. The key principles are outlined in the image below. 

It involves collaboration throughout the supply chain, and has been well received by growers.  Avocados in fact is the first horticultural product to have PGP funding, a feat in itself.
That’s a quick summary of the avocado industry.  Whilst we have our challenges (inconsistent production), and our threats (biosecurity), there are a heap of opportunities out there, and our industry is ready to make the most of them.

Daniel works for Trevelyans Pack and Cool in Te Puke, as the Avocado Manager.  He has a number of roles within the industry, and works closely with avocado and kiwifruit growers.