Avocados - an emerging market in New Zealand?
This sub tropical fruit has been grown in the world for many thousands of years and its existence within the New Zealand (NZ) horticultural market is very much in its infancy. The Avocado industry is relatively new to NZ with commercialisation of the industry commencing in the early 1980's. There are 2 prominent regions in which the fruit is grown, namely Northland and the Bay of Plenty. Grower numbers total 1150 (as compared to say the dairy industry with 14,500). The growers are represented by an efficient growers association which has worked hard to ensure that the industry has a sustainable future within NZ. While the fruit is the staple diet of the South American population, the western world has yet to really appreciate the unique qualities of this fruit and the future opportunities look exciting. For a primary industry in NZ in its current maturity phase it is challenged by many factors. As an exported primary product, which is largely sent in its raw form internationally, it is affected by foreign exchange markets, commodity price demands and competitors that can, in certain parts of the world produce the product in larger quantities and better quality. Given the fruit has a very short shelflife (in some instances 30 days from picking) logistical transportation remains a major issue for the exporter. Research and development in any new industry is critical to the future success and the Avocado industry is not different. Given that we are growing a sub tropical fruit in what is not generally known as a sub tropical region, technical knowledge and historical data is critical to its success and these areas appear wanting in this NZ industry. With a very low number of technicians and consultants in NZ, our ability to be competitive and grow this product well has yet to be fully realised. Outside market factors are impacting on the industries ability to show good yields or return on investment. The "newness "of this industry with many inexperienced entrants and low technical support has impacted the overall yields in recent times. However in balance this industry is also well supported by existing horticultural growers (like Kiwifruit) which have enabled the entry cost to both the grower and post harvest facilities to be lower than would be expected when compared to other new horticultural industries. The infrastructure from the Kiwifruit industry has assisted the Avocado sector and can not be understated in supporting its success to date. The growing conditions that we are subjecting the Avocado crop to in NZ must be fully understood and technical knowledge gained to ensure local issues receive local solutions. The future of this market in NZ remains exciting but will require some continued focus, strong vision and strategic direction to ensure sustainable growth into the future.... [Show full abstract]