Lower crop means good 'management' for NZ avocados

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Lower crop means good 'management' for NZ avocados

Difficult weather conditions and an 'off' crop have led to a lower avocado export forecast for New Zealand this year, but the industry is positive about how it will place the fruit in export markets.

The New Zealand Avocado Growers Association expects shipments of 2.6 million trays in the 2012-13 season, compared to four million trays last year.

Association CEO Jen Scoular told www.freshfruitportal.com growers were expecting fewer avocados due to frosts in 2011 and the alternate bearing nature of the crop.

"If we go back 14 months we were influenced quite heavily, particularly in the Bay of Plenty, by a big frost last August - there was a cold spell in the whole of the North Island, so that had quite an impact on certainly a number of orchards in terms of causing a lack of crop this year," she said.

"We were anticipating a low crop - it is an off year for New Zealand - but on top of that we’ve had a very wet winter which has meant the crop on the trees hasn’t sized up as well as we’d anticipated."

Scoular emphasized the wet weather was during the growing season but the harvest has been very dry.

"The quality is actually very good this year, plus with the low volume we’re able to manage it very well in terms of getting it very quickly to market."

She says just under 60% of exports will go to Australia, close to 20% will go to Japan, and the rest will be destined for Singapore, Hong Kong, Thailand, South Korea and Malaysia, in a season with peak volumes through to December and continued exports into early March.

"We’re certainly making sure the export markets get the size profile they’re wanting. In Asia they like smaller fruit - we are are inherently a large size avocado producer and in Asia we’re talking them into having bigger fruit, but this crop is good for Asia.

"We have to manage the available volumes to suit the available markets, and to Australia depending on what size profile they’d like, but the exports are doing that very strongly."

She said demand for avocados in Asia was strong with awareness about quality and nutrition, highlighting New Zealand's AvoGreen quality and low residue system for market access had been successful.

"We certainly believe we can offer a premium in terms of the system under which New Zealand avocados are grown and produced."

She added market dynamics meant New Zealand would send very few avocados to the U.S. this year, where returns were expected to be all right for larger fruit but not for small avocados.

"The U.S. was certainly looking as a good option for our exporters, but our New Zealand dollar has remained very high against the U.S. dollar.

"Prices in the U.S. market, with very large volumes coming in, haven't been as good as a year ago."


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