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Update from World Avocado Congress 2015, Lima Peru

The wider NZ Avocado team is just starting to arrive back in New Zealand after an exhausting but terrific week in Lima, Peru. A huge amount of energy and passion was expended, and we arrive home proud of our participation.We learnt a lot, we networked and engaged, and certainly significantly raised the visibility of the New Zealand avocado industry. The eighth World Avocado Congress opened on Sunday 13 September and attracted 1,500 delegates. Presentations were from 8.30am to after 6pm every day except the field and cultural day on Wednesday. The New Zealand pavilion, supported by NZ Avocado, Plant & Food Research and Compac Sorting Equipment stood in the middle of the exhibition area, an excellent visual show of our industry. It proved an excellent meeting point for all of us as well as a great place for others to come and meet us. Our selfie competition was a huge hit – with 130 delegates having their photo taken with one of us on the stand, and emailing that photo to us as their entry to the competition to win two return flights to New Zealand, sponsored by Air New Zealand.    Fifteen presentations were given by NZ Avocado & by Plant & Food Research: Jen Scoular - NZ Avocado New Zealand Avocados Go Global Alvaro Vidiella - NZ Avocado   New colonal rootstocks are showing their value Productivity research in NZ, moving towards a collaborative learning environment Phillip West - NZ Avocado  Pruning flowers and fruit to reduce alternate bearing in New Zealand Collaborative research on tree decline. Old problem, new approach Midge Munro - NZ Avocado  The rise in fame of the amazing New Zealand Avocado Helen Boldingh - Plant & Food Research  The potential for the production of "successful” fruit on ‘Hass’ avocado (Persea Americano Mill.) trees is reflected by the carbohydrate content of the style Allan Woolf - Plant & Food Research   Hpp treated avocado pulp: physicochemical, volatile and sensory changes during storage Pre- and postharvest factors affecting fatty acids, tocopherols, phytosterols and pigments in avocado and avocado oil Nick Gould - Plant & Food Research  Effect of crop load on tree yield and return bloom in New Zealand ‘Hass’ avocado orchards Jeremy Burdon - Plant & Food Research  Controlled atmosphere storage of New Zealand ‘Hass’ avocado fruit Kerry Everett - Plant & Food Research  The cause of avocado black spot Systematic orchard survey to determine regional and seasonal variation of fruit quality in Michoacan avocados Towards commercialisation of avocado rot prediction Edouard Perie - Plant & Food Research  Integrated research to deliver sustainable benefits to small-holder avocado farmers in Kenya After the success of the New Zealand theme reception in Cairns in 2011, we hosted over 100 guests in a rooftop bar of the Radisson hotel on Tuesday evening. We overcame the challenge of not being able to buy New Zealand sauvignon blanc in Lima by asking the New Zealand contingent to add a few bottles to their luggage. A brilliant move, the sauvignon blanc very well received, and went well with the New Zealand Villa Maria pinor noir we were able to source. This was just one of the little challenges of arranging a congress in Peru. Three weeks before we left we found out we couldn’t ship any of our collateral over, so again, had to share that around and bring it in our luggage.Our theme for our bid to host the 2019 Congress was "Discover your slice of New Zealand”, and we displayed that theme across every presentation and very clearly across the New Zealand pavilion. There was huge passion from right across the New Zealand contingent for engagement, for stories about our industry and about New Zealand. We had polo shirts printed with our congress branding and "Vote New Zealand”, which we wore as often as the laundry allowed. Our competitor was Colombia, who also put up a bid to host the 2015 Congress but lost to Peru. Early in the week we felt pretty confident, we were certainly better prepared in our bid, Colombia seemed to be silent about it, but that all changed on the last couple of days when Colombia came out much more strongly. There was a very strong Spanish speaking contingent, and the loyalty of South Americans to another South American nation was pretty clear. But it was friendly competition, I photo bombed a group of Colombians the morning of the vote, running across the room to get into their photo, and they reacted very positively, trying to get me to wear their colours (don’t worry I didn’t). After the final lunch – which the Colombians sponsored, so had their Ambassador persuading votes their way, and the way the Colombians seemed to have arranged to speak four times of the last day (we had all been slotted in earlier in the conference) – I had started to feel we were going to get whipped by Colombia, they certainly appeared to have strong South American support for another congress in their region. Just before the bid presentation on the last day, the head of the Columbian delegation said to us, if we win, please come to Colombia, if you win we will come to New Zealand. Ashby took the draw to decide who would present first, and won so we chose to present second. The room was packed, there would have been 700 or 800 people, with a large number having to stand. Colombia showed a tourism video, interestingly similar to ours, in the way it showed off the landscape and nature. Alvaro and I presented our pitch – starting with the Tourism NZ video, then a summary of the congress we would organise in New Zealand. The atmosphere was electric, we both felt as if we were on a political rally – I have never experienced that sort of positive anticipation before. I presented and Alvaro translated – a real asset to have Alvaro as our native Spanish speaker on the team, and very much appreciated by the English speakers in the audience. The Colombian presentation had no translation, nor had the opening of that session. We added a little action into the presentation, with Ashby coming on stage and throwing out a bunch of rugby balls, which was the signal for the rest of the strategically placed New Zealand contingent to throw a couple. It was a great fun play to add in. We got rapturous applause, and truthfully must have won back quite a number of votes. The vote took ages, with each of the near 700 voting delegates lining up to put their ice block stick into the New Zealand or the Colombian box. When the lids were taken off, I truthfully didn’t know which box was more full. The final result, based on the weight, was New Zealand 321 grams, Colombia 335 grams. So close, but not enough to win. Very disappointed, but we knew we could not have done more. To Midge in particular, an amazing thanks. Her effort over the past month and over the six days was amazing, and everything was carried out with huge professionalism and impact. The support and enthusiasm of the NZ growers and stakeholders traveling with us was terrific. Collectively we made the biggest impact of any nation – with a wonderful demonstration of passion for our industry. I am immensely proud of the week’s work. The New Zealand avocado industry was wonderfully represented, was wonderfully supportive of each other, we participated strongly in every event and increased significantly our capability with the presentations and networking. We have certainly established our industry as a global player. Regards, Jen

MPI launches online tool for food businesses

Food Safety Minister Jo Goodhew has launched an online tool that will help food businesses discover how they will be affected by the new Food Act 2014, which comes into force in March next year. The tool moves through a series of ‘yes/no’ questions to identify which requirements businesses will need to follow. The new Food Act comes into force 1 March 2016. Existing businesses will be given a three-year transition period to move to the new rules. People can find out which rules will apply to their business, and when they will need to transition to the new rules, on the MPI website: http://www.mpi.govt.nz/food-safety/food-act-2014/where-do-i-fit/

Avocados now 'The Oprah of Instagram'

Avocados have been declared ‘the Oprah of Instagram’ by renowned fashion blogger Leandra Medine and are the most photographed food of our time – just as New Zealand’s new season crop is about to hit supermarket shelves here and overseas. New Zealand’s avocado season begins in September and is likely to send Instagram’s foodies and health and fitness fans into overdrive. Jen Scoular, Chief Executive of NZ Avocado, says the fruit’s rising star status is great news for New Zealand’s avocado industry which is on track to increase production to take advantage of ever increasing global demand. New Zealand sold a record 7.1 million trays worth $135m during the 2014-15 avocado season, of which 2.4 million trays were consumed by Kiwis here at home. About one in five of Nigella Lawson’s recent Instagram posts have featured mashed avocado smothered on toast. Last month actress Emmy Rossum received 27,000 likes for posing in an Avocado Toast t-shirt, while Lena Dunham is another celebrity who likes to regularly snap her healthy avocado snacks. Bloggers and fashion influencers everywhere are leading the trend and avocados are now dominating the brunch and smoothie scene, becoming a must-have on every menu. The UK’s Daily Mail have described avocado as "breakfast’s new superstar” and "the Kendall Jenner of the fruit bowl” thanks to its popularity on Instagram. American blogger Leandra Medine, aka the Man Repeller, compared avocado’s influence to that of Oprah, while Kelly Eastwood of The London Chatter says the obsession is here to stay. "Avocado on toast says: ‘yes, I’m hungover, I haven’t showered yet but, hey, I’m eating avocado at a cool Portobello Road café so I’m still on top of the trend for all things healthy’.” Avocado is revered as a nutrient-dense, cholesterol-free fruit containing healthy fat. They’re a great source of energy, keep you feeling fuller for longer, and are quick and easy to prepare.  About New Zealand Avocado The New Zealand avocado industry is the third largest fresh fruit export from New Zealand. NZ Avocado Growers' Association Inc. (NZAGA) and Avocado Industry Council Ltd (AIC) work with the New Zealand industry to set export standards, facilitate market access, promote New Zealand avocados and provide technical information to all New Zealand growers of which there are over 1,350 based mainly in the Bay of Plenty and Northland. For more information visit www.nzavocado.co.nz or follow us on social @NZ_Avocado @Jen_Scoular @Midge_Munro

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