New Zealand Avocado hosts the World Avocado Congress after two challenging years
Due to weather damages, the exports of New Zealand avocados were much lower than expected for the 2022-23 season.
“We’ve had a very, very wet season, probably three times as much rain as we normally have, which has impacted how well the fruit has held on the trees,” said Jen Scoular, CEO of New Zealand Avocado during an exclusive interview with FreshFruitPortal.
For the current season, ending this month, NZ exporters had forecasted 4 million 5.5kg trays of avocados, however, final numbers are down to around 2.6 million.
The volume of the local NZ market, however, has increased allowing some of the production to be redirected to the local markets due to the decrease in exportations.
“We’ve definitely seen a good increase in local consumption, we do quite strong excavations in the New Zealand market to encourage more locals to consume avocados,” said Scoular.
From 2017 to 2021, production land increased from 4,000 hectares to 5,000, allowing producers to try out new planting techniques and growing methods to increase the production of premium avocados.
Regarding the productivity of older avocado trees, Scoular said, “In the last five years, there's been a big effort on pruning and canopy management of avocado trees to bring the size down, which means we are getting better nutrition into those trees making production more efficient.”
World Avocado Congress
The 10th edition of the World Avocado Congress(WAC), which will feature over 130 presentations, will take place this year between April 2-5 in Auckland, New Zealand.
This is a great opportunity for members of the industry all around the world to gather and share ideas on breeding, productivity, sustainability, and address the global challenges being faced by the industry.
“There's a lot of countries where the avocado sector is challenged, NZ is definitely one of those, and we need to bring in some change,” said Scoular. “We need to get better at how we produce, pack, and market avocados, so we're really looking forward to that conversation of: how can we collectively do this better.”
Avocado consumption keeps a meteoric rise, in the US alone, imports increased by 33% from 2020 to 2021. Part of the reason for this surge in demand is the awareness of the health benefits that the fruit offers.
However, as Scoular recognized, there is still tremendous potential for avocado consumption in other regions of the world. Nevertheless, the CEO emphasizes that nobody’s quite got it right yet, and that avocado production must be good for the world too in terms of sustainable farming practices.
“We need to take advantage of the opportunity that we will all be under one roof to have those conversations and see if we can all learn from each other and improve it for everyone,” she said.
Benefits of the WAC for NZ producers
Producers across the country have spoken with Scoular and they recognize that they must adopt better farming practices. They see the congress as a huge learning opportunity to find out what the best practice is from other producers across countries like Chile, Mexico, or Colombia and learn from that.
“We know that (with the event) there will be more visibility for avocados from New Zealand and they will be put on the world stage. Our key export fruits are kiwis and apples, but we want avocados to be incorporated into that conversation,” Scouler concluded.
Scouler appreciates that after two tough years, gathering all local producers will be an opportunity to enjoy a break from the grind of a challenging business while meeting other fellow producers from around the world.