Lack of transparency hurting NZ avocado returns, claims expert

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Lack of transparency hurting NZ avocado returns, claims expert

A New Zealand avocado expert says export returns have suffered due to lack of retail and wholesale information, newspaper Bay of Plenty Times reported.

Avocado Growers Association former chairman Hugh Moore, said the effect of large volumes of the New Zealand fruit in the wholesale market has depressed retail prices and returns for growers.

"As in the past, the industry body should have been publishing market information. They have the power to get wholesale and retail prices from the exporters and market flow information that should have been made more available to growers two weekly as this would have given growers the ability to calculate their orchard gate return," he was quoted as saying.

"It's about three seasons since this information has been available. There is a hesitancy to do this and this has let the industry down this season."

He told the newspaper that to prevent a repeat of this season's marketing problems, growers should take control of their industry and "line up their exporters and make them accountable".

Moore said growers needed to show leadership and demand changes in order to protect their livelihoods.

"I am prepared to tell growers which exporters aren't performing, if they want to ring me," he was quoted as saying.

He described exporters as 'irresponsible' if they were putting the fruit out on the water without knowing whether they had a definite market.

Moore said that unlike many other types of fruit, avocadoes didn't have to be picked at a certain time as the harvest was spread over several months.

"The best refrigerator for avocados is on the tree," he quipped.

Growers and exporters knew the 2011-2012 season would produce this country's biggest crop ever - an estimated 5.9 million trays (both export and local market), compared to the previous largest crop of 4.2 million in 2007-08, and just over 3 million trays last year.

Avocado Growers Association and Industry Council chairman John Schnackenberg, agrees some growers could be in for very low or nil returns this season but said around 65 per cent would receive NZ$10 (US$7.7) or more per tray, the story reported.

It is thought some growers will get as little as NZ$2-4 (US$1.5-3 ) per tray when last year they earned up to NZ$20 (US$15.4).

"Growers own the fruit right up until until the point of sale and they have the right to ask exporters where it is going and what returns are likely to be," he was quoted as saying.

"The industry has been giving this message for some time but unfortunately some growers have not been paying attention."

The most exposed exporters were those who did not have links with retailers in Australia or other markets, such as Japan, Asia or America, to export fruit.

Photo: Avocado Growers Association and Industry Council

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