Avocados NZ: Tough season for growers with record low volumes exported

30 January 2024 (from NZ Herald) By Monique Steele of RNZ

The current New Zealand Hass avocado season will be one growers will want to forget.

Record low volumes of fruit have been exported, down by more than a million trays so far, with many orchards still recovering after three seasons of terrible weather.

Industry body Avocados New Zealand chief executive Brad Siebert said that as a result, quality issues had over-supplied the domestic market with lower-grade fruit, pushing down prices.

“We’re coming to the tail end of a pretty rough export season for all parties involved, especially growers,” he said.

“It’s just that perfect storm where we’ve got the world growing avocados, we’ve got increased competition in our export markets and that just results in those lower returns that growers are seeing, coupled with those increased prices of inputs on orchard.”

And with only a few weeks left of the export season, he said volumes were much lower than anticipated.

“We’ve got a season forecast overall for the industry of about 4.4 million [trays]. We have an export flow plan of about 1.4 million [trays].

“When you look at previous years of 2.6 million [trays], we are well over a million trays down on our export volumes. And obviously, New Zealand market volumes are up again.”

Siebert said there has been increased competition from Australia this season too – as it pushed into key markets like India, but fortunately, New Zealand was able to get fruit into Canada for the first time this season, and back into the United States.

In the domestic market, he said retail prices were on average $2.48 per avocado this time last year, but were now averaging $1.75.

He said this was rough on the country’s more than 1038 growers, who were already under immense pressure following a few tough seasons in the face of continuously rising input costs like fuel, agri-chemicals, labour, and other services.

But Siebert said the organisation was looking ahead to next season, which is expected to have a much larger crop once harvest starts in July.

Export crop values have swayed in recent years – peaking at $167 million in the 2020/2021 season, but dropping by more than half to $61m last season – according to Avocados New Zealand’s annual report.

Last season’s domestic crop was valued at nearly $56m.


Article link: https://www.nzherald.co.nz/the-country/news/avocados-nz-tough-season-for-growers-with-record-low-volumes-exported/2ZURJXRPTJHSFMKQWRAZGNHX5Q/#:~:text=The%20current%20New%20Zealand%20Hass,three%20seasons%20of%20terrible%20weather. 

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