New Zealand Avocado chief executive Jen Scoular has overseen the industry almost treble in value during the past 10 years.
This breaks down to $167m delivered by avocado exports and another $60m in sales in the New Zealand market.
"This is an extraordinary result for the avocado industry," says NZ Avocado chief executive Jen Scoular. "Facing the season with Covid lockdowns, significant freight disruption, an ability to meet face-to-face with customers and a small fruit profile, it is a credit to the entire value chain to achieve this record result."
The 2020 New Zealand avocado season produced a record export volume and total crop volume: 44,000 tonnes of avocadoes were harvested, with 5.1 million trays (5.5kg per tray) exported to 11 export markets.
This was an increase of 10% on the previous season.
Some 54% of New Zealand's avocado production came from the Bay of Plenty region in 2020, with 39% coming out of the Northland.
NZ Avocado Growers' Association chair Linda Flegg describes the returns to growers for export and domestic avocados as very pleasing.
"Escpecially given the uncertainty at the beginning of the season around the impacts of Covid on our markets, and the disruption to global freight and logistics," she says. "Our avocado exporters and NZ marketers did extremely well to achieve successful outcomes for growers despite the challenges."
Demand for avocados from New Zealand was strong in Australia, Thailand and Taiwan - with avocado volumes to Australia up 45% on the previous season.
A combination of a short Australian domestic avocado supply and good New Zealand export pack outs contributed to the increase.
Australia was also New Zealand's largest market for avocado exports receiving more than 4.2 million (5.5 kg) trays). In 2020, domestic production in Western Australia was depleted, which allowed for more NZ imports.
Around 500,000 trays of avocados were also exported to eight markets across Asia. Of those, Thailand was the largest, followed by Taiwan and Singapore. However, volumes were down in some markets, where sea and air freight disruption had a major impact on New Zealand's avocado exports.
The New Zealand market also delivered good returns.
"Around 2.5 million trays worth over $60m were sold in New Zealand in the 2020 season," Scoular says.
The domestic market is the second largest for New Zealand avocados and has seen significant growth in the past five years. It was a $30m market in 2015.
"We continue to invest in avocado promotion in New Zealand to communicate the wonderful nutrients and versatility of avocados to New Zealand consumers," Scoular adds.
A smaller average fruit size was another challenge encountered in 2020, with a significant increase in the percentage of small sized avocados in the crop. "Thankfully, early indications show our fruit size is looking larger for the coming season and more in line with New Zealand's historical avocado fruit size profile," Flegg says.
She adds that further developing markets for NZ avocados will remain a priority in 2021, with Australian domestic supply forecast to increase considerably this year and over the coming five years.
"Demand for avocados continues to increase in markets across Asia; the key challenge will be meeting export plans and delivering premium quality New Zealand avocados to these markets."
All Go For World Expo
Planning is underway for NZ to host the biggest avocado gathering in the world, the World Avocado Congress in 2023.
NZ Avocado Growers' Association chair Linda Flegg says the four yearly event represents an opportunity for the avocado industry to come to New Zealand from around the globe and showcase avocados to the world.
"The opportunity is ripe for avocadooes and for the wider horticulture and agriculture sectors to share stories of New Zealand's sustainable food production."
NZ Avocado Industry
New Zealand is the ninth largest international avocado exporter globally.
There are over 4,000 hectares of avocado trees planted in New Zealand, primarily in the Bay of Plenty and Northland.