A very tough year for avocado growers and the wider industry has emphasised the need to be agile, says NZ Avocado chief executive Jen Scoular.
Avocados are gaining “celebrity status” around the world, she says.
NZ avocados do not yet have access into China, but they are top of the Ministry for Primary Industries negotiating list, says Scoular.
Meanwhile the NZ industry is looking at a record year.
The avocado crop typically bears more in alternative years. This year the industry is expecting 7.6 million trays (a tray is 5.5m kg) compared to its record year two years ago of 7.1m trays.
“I am in China right now with NZ exporters looking at what we might do in the China market if it opens,” Scoular told Rural News, on her way to the Shanghai fruit market.
“We know our productivity on our orchards is continuing to increase as our growers work out how to get more out of their orchards.
“The amazing health attributes of avocadoes continue to be very attractive to the consumer who is looking after their health.”
Phytosanitary access negotiation to the Chinese market is now going on between the two governments.
Scoular says the potential is huge, because of the population and the massive growth of the affluent class in China who live in a ‘global’ world.
If NZ Avocados gains access it would promote the health and versatility of avocados in China and other Asian markets. Whether they will gain access is so far unknown but it tops the list of agricultural products with MPI.
Meanwhile NZ Avocados and the industry are pushing their visibility in their market and showing they can commit to it.
“We are riding a global wave of the celebrity status of avocados. Worldwide they are in high demand and we are working to ensure we are part of that,” says Scoular.
They want to maintain interest in avocados and get new consumers; and they are looking to improve how they get avocados to the market fast. Most fruit goes to Asian markets in modified or controlled atmosphere containers.
Meanwhile Scoular says NZ consumers will also see a huge crop this year, and “this is a really important market for us as well,” she says.
“Avocado popularity is growing because of health and versatility in many different recipes.”