Primary Growth Partnership (PGP)
The New Zealand Avocados Go Global Primary Growth Partnership (PGP) was an eight-and-a-half-year programme which aimed to transform the New Zealand avocado industry. The aim was to reduce the industry’s reliance on one market and move it towards being a globally competitive, high-value, sustainable export industry with a dynamic market in New Zealand.
The initial programme was for five years, and it included goals to quadruple sales and triple productivity by 2023. Go Global’s vision was that by 2023 an integrated industry would be on track to deliver;
- NZ$280 million annually in net sales.
- Productivity tripled to 12 tonnes per hectare.
An independent progress review was conducted midway through the programme. It concluded that: “The Go Global PGP programme has made a major contribution to the New Zealand avocado industry, achieving a step change in the way that the industry operates. It is now a much more trusting, collaborative, cohesive, communicative and co-ordinated industry, with a correspondingly greater public profile.” It also concluded that: “The behaviour shift driven by the step change places the industry in a much stronger position to respond to increased international demand for avocados and increasing need for market diversification.”
Go Global has been an important catalyst of industry growth. This growth has enabled information-sharing across the industry, the opening and development of new markets in Asia, and improvements in productivity through a focus on tree health and orchard management. The programme was extended in 2019 to leverage industry growth and the work programme included the following projects:
- The development of a differentiated story for Asian markets.
- Sustainability credentials.
- Trusted supply chain projects including digitisation.
- A feasibility study on whether New Zealand should have an avocado breeding programme.
The programme has performed well. It supported the industry to achieve a return to New Zealand of $230 million, through an estimated $250m net sales. This achievement was up from $70 million in 2012 and very close to the ambitious PGP objective to quadruple net sales from $70m to $280 million. The ambitious PGP goal to treble productivity was achieved with industry yields increasing from 3.4 tonnes per hectare in 2012-13 to 11.7 tonnes per hectare in 2021-22. Significant improvement in consistency of yields has supported sustainable increases in productivity.
Risks through a reliance on the Australian market have been mitigated through the development of Asian markets. Exporters have trebled the volume shipped and sold in Asia from 541k trays in the 2020-21 season to 1.5 million trays in the 2021-22 season. Exports to Asia reached 42 percent of export volume with the most significant growth in South Korea, Thailand, China, Taiwan, Singapore and Malaysia. Research was undertaken with 1,000 consumers in six Asian markets to understand the attributes influencing the purchase of avocados. This research led the development and implementation of the Triple Active New Zealand Avocados campaign, focusing on the three attributes most valuable to consumers, omega 3, folate and antioxidants.
The Go Global vision was to significantly increase returns from the New Zealand market and over the programme these returns have increased from $28m in 2012-13 to $63m in 2021-22. This growth was the result of a focus on market development in New Zealand and promotional activity through an ‘Avocado Story’ developed under the programme.
Adoption of best practice increased through information sharing enabled by the programme. Systems were developed which digitised on orchard compliance & export data. These systems included the development of a grower facing portal and digitised spray diary, as well as a digitised system to collect, manage and report industry data. These systems ensure all parts of the supply chain can exchange data in real time as orchards are cleared for harvest. They include online market declarations, and digitised non-propagation agreements for nurseries. Productivity and consistency of yield data has been benchmarked and is tracked at both individual orchard and national levels. Go Global developed sustainability credentials for the New Zealand avocado sector. The first step was development of a Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) as part of the programme’s sustainability work, with the orchard, packhouse and distribution models complete. Interim reporting shows an average water footprint for the New Zealand avocado industry at six times lower than recent South American studies on avocados. The presentation of New Zealand’s orchard performance benchmarking was a highlight when learnings from the programme were transferred to a global and NZ audience of 1,160 avocado stakeholders at the 10th World Avocado Congress hosted by NZ Avocado in 2023.
The value of the avocado industry, and most importantly the returns to growers per hectare (OGR) have grown considerably in the last 10 years. There are now more than 1,400 avocado growers and 4,400 hectares producing avocados. 50% of these hectares are located in the Bay of Plenty, and 50% in Northland. Over 1,000 hectares of new planting has occurred in greenfield sites, or from dairy conversions as a result of the significant increase in returns per hectare for avocado.
The outcomes of Go Global will continue to support long term growth in new and existing markets with a differentiated and high value proposition from a trusted and sustainable industry. Although the global sector is currently impacted by significant increased supply from a number of countries, the potential remains very good for avocados, provided there is strong investment in increasing market demand, particularly in Asia.
The legacy of the Go Global programme will be that it will continue to add value to the sector with enduring systems and increased connectedness across the industry. A feasibility study for a breeding programme was undertaken in the programme and it confirmed that the sector would benefit well from a breeding programme in New Zealand. The programme has put the industry in a stronger position to respond to the growing demand for avocados, the increasing need for market diversification, heightened phytosanitary and compliance requirements and the implementation of some different ways of growing avocados that are more productive and more consistent in their yield.
To view an overview of the programme and quarterly updates click here