Changing world

By Jen Scoular

Watching the news of a world captured by a global pandemic doubles my strength of feeling for New Zealand. How wonderful it felt to celebrate Christmas and New Year without restriction. How good it felt to be able to go off to the beach or campgrounds, or meet with friends.

We spent much of 2020 being nervous about planning activity, but talking to my friends and colleagues, we all got out and about very happily over the much needed break. Many of our growers and supply chain providers continued to harvest, pack and market avocados to ensure a ready supply for consumers in New Zealand and our export markets.

Our exporters continue to face very challenging shipping conditions, with changes in schedules, delays, and very late notice of changes even after the ship has departed New Zealand all very familiar issues.

In New Zealand we harvest avocados for export from July through to late January, and for the New Zealand market we harvest throughout the whole the year, as avocados don’t store much longer than a few weeks. So we are not as impacted with the severe shortage of seasonal employee workers, as our friends in apples, summerfruit and kiwifruit will be. We do utilise seasonal labour but are currently managing okay in our harvest and packhouse operations.

The final volume for this year is likely to be slightly ahead of last year, and with excellent returns out of the Australian market where domestic production was low, opening up demand for avocados from New Zealand. Avocados, like most fresh fruit, are benefitting globally from consumers increased interest in good health, with 19 vitamins and nutrients which support a healthy immune system.

Avocado fruit set for the 2021-22 season is looking good, although orchards in higher areas may have suffered from the sudden cool period in late Spring, which does make our very valuable bees less likely to do their work on pollination.

I strongly support the need to continue to use the COVID-19 contact tracer app. It is not hard and it only takes a few seconds. It is a tool New Zealand has to hand that will help mitigate an issue if one arises. As Nike says, Just Do It.

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