NZ Avocado continues to consider the health and safety of all stakeholders involved in avocado industry activity, as per New Zealand Government COVID-19 guidelines.

This page will be updated as we get information. 

Please look out for one another, follow government advice and stay connected with each other by email and phone.

Kia kaha, stay strong and stay safe.

For more information please see below or contact us

Update: 15 Feb 2021

I have just completed a call with horticulture industry groups and government in response to the recent announcement of level 3 lockdown conditions in Auckland, and level 2 lockdown for the rest of New Zealand. There was acknowledgement from government on the call of their awareness of how disappointing it will feel to be back in lockdown. A legal order has now been issued.

All those involved in the food and beverage business including avocado growers and workers, and those packing and packaging food and beverage are “permitted” to cross the Auckland border for work. This means they may cross the Auckland level 3 border provided they are carrying the required paperwork.

The Ministry for Business, Employment and Innovation (MBIE) have set up a travel register. Food and beverage workers, including avocado workers, who might needing to cross the Auckland border will be required to register their business on the MBIE travel register.

As soon as they can, businesses are asked to register with the new system (click here to apply), which will automatically provide workers with a QR code that they can place on the dashboard when crossing the border. (Please note that individuals need a RealMe account to start the registration process, on behalf of their business.)

All travellers must also carry photo id. The government noted that police should be taking a pragmatic approach with border crossing.

If travel across the Auckland border is required immediately, the same paperwork used to cross the border in the 2020 Auckland lockdown is sufficient.

Please note that from Tuesday 16 February 2021, QR codes for travel across the Auckland border are likely to be mandatory.

Transiting through Auckland airport is allowed, provided the traveller does not exit the airport.

Government also noted on the call that green grocers can continue to operate under lockdown Level 3, which the horticulture sector fought hard to get implemented.

Government did encourage all of us to pick up the phone if we encounter issues.
Take care, look out for one another and please contact me or the NZ Avocado team on 07 571 6147 if you have any questions or would like to talk through any potential challenges.

Kia kaha, kia haumaru,
Stay strong and stay safe.

Jen Scoular
CEO, NZ Avocado

Previous updates

12th of August update

As New Zealand moves into COVID-19 alert level 2 and the Auckland region into level 3 at 12:00pm today we urge you to take care, keep safe and follow Government instructions set out on the COVID-19 website here .

A plan is in place between Government and industry, I have been on a call with Government this morning and daily update calls will resume again from today. NZ Avocado has developed a COVID-19 communications plan and is in regular communication with other horticulture sector groups and government. We will communicate any updates that impact the avocado industry as soon as we are informed via Avoconnect and the NZ Avocado website

The key points from today’s call with Government are:

  • As a food producer, avocado production and supply is deemed an essential service in the primary sector, and will continue to operate. We will continue to provide food for New Zealanders.
  • There is no disruption anticipated to the movement of goods to ports in and around Auckland and New Zealand.
  • Food and people working in essential services are able to travel through Auckland.
  • Businesses operating in the avocado supply chain in the Auckland region will be required to move to Level 3 operating protocols.
  • Supermarkets, dairies and petrol stations will remain open.
  • For independent fruit stores, cafes and restaurants in the Auckland region at alert level 3 customers are not allowed on the premises. These businesses must trade without physical contact with customers, for example through phone or online orders, delivery, pick-up and drive-through. This will likely have an impact on avocado demand.
  • For any avocado employees required to cross the boundary into the Auckland region to do their job, their employer should provide a letter confirming they are operating as part of an essential services business.
  • It is highly recommended that people wear masks when out in public at alert level 3.

Thank you to all those who have registered to attend the upcoming field day, AGM and Grower Forum in Whangarei. We continue to keep a watching brief on Government announcements and will communicate changes to these events, if any, later in the week.

At NZ Avocado we are all using the COVID-19 contact tracing app and recommend you all do as well.

Take care, look out for one another and please contact me or the NZ Avocado team on 07 571 6147 if you have any questions or would like to talk through any potential challenges.

Kia kaha, kia haumaru,
Stay strong and stay safe.

Jen Scoular
CEO NZ Avocado

8th of May update

08 May update

COVID19 Alert Level Table

1.45 MB 24 Downloads

14th of April update

Please see the final Horticulture guidance for staff health and safety here.

Credit goes to the teams at KGI and Apples and Pears NZ working closely with MPI to confirm this guidance.

This is guidance only and each business has to put in place risk management that is appropriate for their own situation.

MPI have said that:
Ultimately it will remain the responsibility of individual operators to implement the guidance in their own workplaces. They will need to do this in a way that makes sense for them and provides the necessary precautions and protections for their workers and the general public, but this higher level guidance will certainly help them with meeting their responsibilities. If they cannot achieve the 1m separation our recommendation would likely be that additional safety measures need to be put in place, and that PPE may be advisable.

Obviously we’re all learning from operating in this new environment and we should treat the guidance as a living document and be prepared to adjust it as best (or better) practices emerge.

On other matters, on the ground verification of essential businesses continues – and the horticulture sector is doing well.

I had a verification phone call this morning, as I have registered NZ Avocado as an essential business.
Based on what I had included in the registration questions, they wanted to verify by phone some of the protocols in place in the office. Currently working from home suits all of us so no-one is working in the office, but a few of us need to access it for some documents that are not yet digitised.

The verification officer was very polite, was only constructive, and we passed, with a comment we have probably done more than required.  Which you’d expect as I am trying to make sure all the rules and information was provided correctly for my stakeholders!

I was interviewed on Rural Today radio this morning, and let listeners know there are still plenty of avocados available in supermarkets, especially while the food service and independent fruit stores are in lockdown.
I suggested avocados were a great choice – lots of ways to enjoy them, they are super healthy and contain vitamin C and B6 which support a healthy immune system, and while we are at home – we have time to try new recipes.

We are continuing to promote avocados and today we launched an avocado virtual dinner party promotion – #avopartyanyway. We want to help re-connect families and friends in lockdown with a delicious shared avocado meal.

Our team had a practice run on Friday night and it was so much fun – well we started with tequila avocado cocktails so you’d hope we had fun.

Anyway, have a look on the website or come back to me if you’d like more information.

Kia kaha kia haumaru, stay strong, stay safe


8 April Update

Day 14 and reduced new cases for three days in a row. I do like the “cautious optimism” our Prime Minister admits she holds.

It was great to hear her specifically highlight the horticulture sector today in her address today, and in more detail, talk about the significant changes the kiwifruit and apple and pear sectors had undertaken to ensure they continued to produce and market fresh fruit.
She highlighted the much higher percentage of kiwis employed in horticulture this season, recognising the great initiatives to offer employment to those who had lost roles in other non-essential businesses.

We now need to understand what alert level 3 might look like for our industry.
On the call today MPI highlighted that it would still require distancing between workers, but there would be a move away from the very tight definition of essential services.
Most businesses would be able to function again, but with staff ideally working from home.
Bars, cafes and restaurants would remain closed, and gatherings of 50 or more people would not be allowed.

Horticulture is pushing for the opening of independent fruit and vegetable stores, and our vegetable sector is pushing for drive-through food takeaway services to be re-opened, and maybe fish and chip shops. A lot of lettuces, tomatoes and potatoes are apparently sold through takeaway fast food and of course, potatoes through the fish and chip shops. I have to admit I picked up a rotisserie chicken the other day – the closest I thought I could get to takeaways under lockdown.

I would like to hear from you on what you feel is important that we ensure is able to happen in alert level 3, and any areas that you are unsure about.

MPI COVID19 alert system

MPI verification visits
A further 500 visits have been made by MPI to essential businesses, four resulting in letters being sent outlining improvements that are required, and a re-visit has seen these rectified. No horticulture businesses have received a letter.

MPI acknowledges that the primary sector has taken lockdown very seriously and are managing to keep people safe while implementing COVID19 requirements.

MPI have also acknowledged that they get a lot of value from the daily calls they are having with the Chief Executives of all horticulture sectors, as this allows them to highlight to their senior leadership team any issues in a very timely manner.

MPI have asked for feedback on the following:

MPI Senior Leadership Team are requesting updates on issues experienced by your sectors/horticulture businesses caused by COVID-19. These can be in relation to farm inputs, production, packing, sales/distribution, trade or other issues.

Please send any issues you have or foresee in the near future through to me, and I will forward on to MPI.

I hope this email finds you well and healthy. Thank you for the efforts you are making during this alert level 4 period to enable our sector to continue.

Kia kaha kia haumaru, stay strong, stay safe.

Jen Scoular
CEO NZ Avocado

3 April Update

3 April update

A verification team from MPI have started visits to essential businesses. MPI reports these are going well, that they report people are trying hard to comply and the team are getting positive reception from the entities they visit.

One sector reported that their entities were quite nervous prior to a visits, acknowledging how much has had to be put in place in a short time, but were the visits went very well, with only constructive comment received.

It would be good to know when you are visited please, with some comment about how it went, and any feedback you received. You can email me at

To date 18,000 registrations have been received onto a registration platform that MPI acknowledge was built in a day – and has now ceased up.
So registrations are now closed, if you need to contact MPI, please email, and be informative in the subject line about your enquiry.

If the enquiry is about registration as an essential business, please put that in the subject line.

There was a ministerial meeting last night, and a couple of messages coming out are important to be thinking about.
A question was raised as to what happens to the end of this four week lockdown.
Horticulture will be asked how they would see their essential businesses changing if we went in to a level 3, or if some regions went to level 3, as that is still a possibility.

Those people involved in annual crops are having a very challenging time deciding whether to plant or not, as a large portion of their crop is sold normally to restaurants and fruit and vegetable shops, neither of which are open in level 4.

Likewise in avocados, there is recognition we have a cyclical set of activities that need to be undertaken to produce a good crop. Some of those things can be put off for a while, but not forever, so we need to determine what those activities are, and how we ensure they are able to be undertaken.

Shelter-trimming was deemed non-essential in the next three weeks. Likewise I have seen several newsletter saying the soil tests normally done end of March will now be done end of April.
For avocados, we need to be thinking about how the start of our season might look under a level 3 scenario. See the levels from the MPI website below.

But we are still getting a clear message that level four will continue at least until the end of the planned four week period.
Right now the focus is on coping with level 4. A procedure document – the standards against which MPI will verify compliance to Covid19 requirements – is still being finalised, but will be available on the NZ Avocado website as soon as we have it.

Bevan and I had a video conference with the New Zealand marketer group this morning and they have the following key messages to share with growers.

Message from NZ Market Group

New Zealand market demand for avocados has been impacted by COVID 19 self isolation restrictions. All restaurants, cafes and independent fruit stores are required to stay closed during the Level 4 alert period, which means there are less channels available for marketers to distribute your avocados. Supermarkets are now the only option marketers have available to move meaningful volumes of avocados.

New Zealand marketers do not anticipate any changes in the reduced levels of demand the market is currently experiencing until the alert level 4 period is over.

Some marketers do have planned supermarket retail programmes still operating and are working hard to keep avocados on supermarket shelves, however there is very little room in the market for any volumes outside of these planned programmes.

Marketers urge all growers that still have late avocados hanging to have a conversation about current conditions with their marketer before making a decision to harvest.

I’m very pleased to have made it through this week. It is certainly very challenging, and I know my team and I will enjoy some time off over the weekend.

My phone stays on, so do contact me if you need to.

Kia kaha kia haumaru, stay strong stay safe


2 April Update

Some updates from MPI today:
There have been questions about availability of PPE, personal protective equipment.
Some are being manufactured in New Zealand. Health services will get priority supply but across government they are developing a plan to manage the allocation and distribution to essential business, including horticulture.
This will take a couple of days. So they suggest if you have access to PPE from your own sources, utilise those until there is more available supply.

Update from kiwifruit that the first reefer vessel has arrived in Japan and the first is about to arrive in China.
Demand is strong and fruit quality is good. They are seeing amazing response from New Zealanders moving into roles in kiwifruit, having lost previous roles due to Covid19.

MPI has reported that the COVID19 essential business registration system is having IT issues and is currently shutdown.
Many entities registered more than once because there was no confirmation given, so there are double ups in the system.
They are also finding entities registered when they are not eligible to essential business status, so they need to be taken out.
There was also a story of one business receiving 5 different numbers, having registered only once.
If you intended to register but haven’t been able to, email

Please let me know where we can be of service.

Kia kaha kia haumaru

1 April update

Confirmation of your registration as an essential business

We have recommended you do register as an essential business. Click here to register.

To view MPI guidance for registering as an essential business, click here

When you have registered you will receive a confirmation from MPI Approvals as follows:


Your reference number: [will be specified here]

Thank you for completing MPI’s essential service safe practice registration form.

If you are an essential primary industries service or provide an essential support service, please continue to implement safe practices to protect workers and prevent the spread of COVID-19, and please keep operating.

A list of essential services is here:

A list of primary industries essential support services is here:

MPI will begin verifying the safety measures across the system. Please contact us if we can be of assistance on 0800 00 83 33 or

If you are not an essential service or support service, or if we have advised you not to operate, you should already be closed.

Kind regards

The Ministry for Primary Industries.

Verification visit information from MPI

MPI want to support you through this process and appreciate your cooperation at what is a challenging time.

Outlined below are the next steps in the verification process as we seek assurance from essential businesses and support services that they are implementing safe practices to protect workers and prevent the spread of COVID-19 during Alert Level Four.

MPI staff have been reviewing registrations over the weekend, and based on this may need to follow up with emails, phone calls or in some cases, site visits from Monday 30 March.

If MPI staff need to visit you, they will carry MPI identification (with some being Warranted Officers) and will be conducting their duties safely by following Ministry of Health guidelines around social distancing and proper hygiene.

MPI will generally advise of verification visits on the day. If you have any specific PPE measures or site-specific issues, please flag this on the call prior to the verifier’s arrival. Not all visits will be notified.

If you are visited, verifiers will ask some questions about your registration and may wish to view how you are putting in place the plans you included in your registration. Where issues are identified, these will be talked through with actions identified and noted. This could also involve a follow-up visit.

In the meantime, if you are an essential primary industries service or provide an essential support service, please continue to implement safe practices to protect workers and prevent the spread of COVID-19, and please keep operating.

Thank you for doing all you can to protect New Zealand.

Bryan Wilson

Deputy Director-General New Zealand Food Safety


30th of March update

Updated 3pm

Dear avocado stakeholders,

Please see the updated guidance from MPI today – attachment in the downloads section below.

  • Guidance for staff health and safety at Alert Level 4
  • Hygiene requirements for primary processing industries with work station distances between 1 and 2 metres



Updated 9am

Thank you to those still undertaking essential activity to ensure your business is meeting the new requirements under COVID19. Together with my team we are here to help you all to do that. We are just an email or phone call away.

We had an update call with MPI this morning.

17,000 businesses have now registered with MPI. Thank you to those who have taken the time to do so. You should have received an email confirming your registration, with a number attached.

Currently you can’t update your registration, but MPI are working on a system to allow that.

This will be required if and when you improve your processes, based on experience, or on getting more information, and wish to update those processes in your registration.

MPI reviewed nearly 12,000 of the registrations over the weekend, with 200 staff brought in to do this, and are now setting out to verify the practices.

As the hort sector, we have asked MPI that we are involved in the setting of standards against which businesses will be verified. This is happening in the next 24 hours.

We expect to get more detail on the “specifications” later today or tomorrow. There was a request to MPI to recognise that the hort sector is very different from the meat sector, with a very perishable product, a lot of diversity within the sector and large seasonal workforces requiring accommodation and transportation within the COVID19 rules.

MPI did visit 645 facilities on Friday. These were educational visits, mostly a chat with the business owner about the registration process, and to ask if any help with that was required. Some observation of what was happening in the field or inside was made.

MPI and the government recognise that people are responding very quickly, and recognise, especially in sectors being apples and kiwifruit, that the changes required are hugely challenging in what is always a challenging start to a harvest and packing season.

The Prime Minister also noted this morning that when unprecedented changes are made in a 48 hour period, that things won’t be perfect.

MPI emphasised that verification visits are not intended to come in and force a business entity to close down, but to highlight where change is required to meet our national requirements.

Where changes are required, they will be highlighted and verified at a second visit.

MPI is focussing on the horticulture and red meat sectors in the coming week.

MPI acknowledge they see some very good examples of the use of masks, screens and the management of pods of workers, who are living, travelling and working together.

The verification visits will usually be arranged with a phone call to the contact person on your registration form, although some unannounced visits are also expected.

Please come back to me with any questions around this.  I have another call at 5pm tonight so can field your issues, concerns or questions at that time.

Kia kaha kia haumaru (Be strong, be safe)


27th of March update

Dear Grower,

We hope you are well, and staying safe on day 2 of this unprecedented situation.

Please reach out if you need to, there are phone numbers for my whole team on the website, and we welcome emails texts or calls from you.

And reach out by text or phone to your neighbours or grower contacts, and your friends and family. I know I have texted a couple of friends just because it’s the right time to do that, and they have enjoyed the contact.

It is a time to connect, as we work through this together.

We have shared a number of updates about registering your business as an essential service. This is mandatory if your business has 5 or more staff or you are unable to keep the 2m rule between fewer staff.

MPI have acknowledged there a grey area around the number of people on your orchard and have given out different advice to us and to another sector.

But talking to MPI this morning and to our team, we are now recommending that if you have any doubt about whether there will be more than 5 on your business site, your orchard, during this level 4 alert, then please do register.

It is not an onerous process. It will only take you about 20 minutes. There isn’t a cut off time, so take the time over the weekend to do this, for your orchard.

It means firstly that you cover your business in case you get more than 5 on your premises.

It is good practice to read and answer the questions – and we have a guide to how you might answer them here, and on the website.

It means MPI knows you are there, operating as an essential business.

And we all know that the higher the level of compliance to the measures in place, including the hygiene and distancing measures required, the better we as New Zealand, manage this pandemic.

Again, any questions, email me on

We will be available over the weekend.

We recommend growers DO register with MPI as an essential business.

As a food producer your orchard is already included in the classification for an essential business and this registration confirms your orchard in that category.

Before you register, have the BN number for your business handy, you will need to include that, if you have one. (If you don’t just enter 0 in that box)

You will be taken through the form, and need to complete all questions on each page to get to the next page.

At the end, you will hit the “submit” button.

At the time of writing MPI were not confirming receipt of your registration, but they are working on an automatic email being sent, once the registration is submitted. MPI will go back to all registrations received to date (over 9,000) and confirm receipt of this form over the next few days.

Here are some suggestions of how you might answer the questions. Please make the answers relevant to your own entity.

26th of March update

26th of March update

URGENT NOTICE COVID-19 Register on Safe Practices for Operating Businesses – Deadline 5pm Friday 27th March

If your business is undertaking essential services for MPI, you will need to read the information attached below and take action. Unless you fit the criteria of five or fewer people (including the owner) at each business site and can achieve social distancing measures, you will need to register using this link. 

Please see more information below and in previous updates.

Across the horticulture sector we are able to communicate with the government and government agencies. We are also working closely with kiwifruit, apples and other sectors, and with Horticulture NZ.

Please note that rules and policies are changing, as decisions are made. It is important that growers, packers and exporters, and all the supporting services keep themselves updated with daily updates.

If you have any specific questions please direct these to Jen on

Guidelines for horticulture businesses operating as an essential service

HortNZ has put together some guidelines on the kinds of measures to have in place, when operating as an essential business under COVID-19 Alert Level 4.

Registration with MPI as an essential service

If your business has five (5) or fewer people at a site (it’s not the number of employees, it’s the total number of people who are there), you do not have to register and you can continue to operate as an essential horticultural service, provided you are taking all required precautions to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

We asked MPI what happens if the business has less than five people but a 3 person harvest gang was coming on to the orchard. This means the business has more than 5, so needs to register.

Until now you won’t have received a confirmation of your registration but MPI are updating their system so that when you register an auto response will be generated with a registration number. For those that have already registered a retrospective email will be sent by the end of the week. If after this period you have not received your registration details you should contact MPI on 0800 00 83 33.

Go to the MPI website, here:

MPI responses to key grower questions and concerns

26 March 2020

Please see below for MPI’s responses to your key questions and concerns.  We will update this information if it changes and let you know.

Definition of an essential horticulture service

MPI has endorsed the following interpretation of MBIE/MPI/s definitions related to horticulture as an essential service.

  • The production and processing of food and beverage products covers any production practices undertaken by growers that contributes to the growing of fresh fruit, vegetables and berries.
  • This is not limited to growers who are directly in harvest at the moment, but also undertaking activities to plant new crops, maintain orchards and farms and harvest.
  • The development of new blocks is not considered essential, as these are activities for longer term food production, rather than existing production on orchards and farms. However, each business owner should make their own decision whether the stage of production they are currently in is essential to contribute to the supply of fresh fruit, vegetables and berries to New Zealand.

Clarification about the 2m social distancing rule

We asked: it is impractical for some grower operations to continue using the 2m rule. It would mean either halving production by taking staff off the packing lines (for crops already in the ground) and it would be impossible for new crops to be planted using machinery required (transplanters) that do not enable people to be 2m apart.  Is PPE able to be used in lieu of the exact 2m spacing, especially in outdoor conditions where there’s fresh air? For packhouse environments, are other conditions able to be applied for closer spacing i.e. 1.5m and PPE with no contact between staff and full wipe downs between staff areas and shifts?

MPI’s response: Each essential horticultural business that cannot practicably meet social distancing requirements (or has more than five people present on any site) must register with MPI and provide extra information about how it will manage COVID-19 risk. A form to register is on the MPI website and must be emailed to MPI by 5pm on Friday 27 March. The business should continue operating in the meantime with the best health precautions possible.

Documentation for movement to/from workplaces

We asked : Will people need some sort of documentation for movement to/from their places of work? If so, what will they need?

MPI response : No. If essential workers are questioned by police/military/civil defence about their movements, they should be prepared to explain their work situation.

However, we have prepared a form for employers to consider using in this situation, to provide them and their staff with peace of mind.

Access to Personal Protection Equipment (PPE)

We asked: Will the horticulture and other primary industry sectors be prioritised access to PPE?

MPI response: No. The priority for PPE access is the health sector and first responders.

Growers and workers over 70

We asked:Can growers over 70 years of age still work on their orchards/farms? Can individuals over 70 years of age who perform essential services in the horticulture industry continue working?

MPI response : Yes, but they are strongly advised not to.

Independent fresh fruit and vegetable shops

We asked : Can individual fresh fruit and vegetable shops remain open?  Some of these are operated by growers on site.

MPI response : No. All such shops must close.

The below attachment is from the plant market access council (PMAC) on general trading conditions.

2020-03-26 PMAC update

17.09 KB 35 Downloads

25th of March update

25th of March update

URGENT NOTICE COVID-19 Register on Safe Practices for Operating Businesses – Deadline 5pm Friday 27th March

Yesterday, the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) set up a register for safe practice in the sector as New Zealand moves to National Alert Level Four in response to COVID-19.

MPI requires safety assurances from operators that their processes protect workers and the public by limiting interactions between staff and reducing the potential spread of COVID-19.

The Government’s declaration of essential services approves those operating in the primary sector, but we just need to verify that operators are following safe practices.

Registration for those businesses who intend to carry on operating – Deadline this Friday

You are required to respond by end of business on FRIDAY 27th March (apologies for the short turn around).

If your business is undertaking essential services for MPI, you will need to read the information attached below and take action. Unless you fit the criteria of five or fewer people (including the owner) at each business site and can achieve social distancing measures, you will need to register using this link.   

Some additional information for important parts of the biosecurity system

Over the next four weeks we will continue to provide biosecurity services for all goods, vessels and aircraft arriving into the country. We will maintain capacity to respond to incursions for high impact pests and diseases (such as BMSB, Fruit fly or African Swine Fever). And as food producers (deemed essential services) continue to move livestock around the country, we will continue to manage our response to Mycoplasma bovis.


  • All associated biosecurity service providers need to make sure that they register (including transitional facilities that expect to receive goods during Alert Level 4).
  • Post Entry Quarantine facilities and laboratory facilities providing biosecurity services also need to register.
  • Surveillance and major responses will continue so businesses providing services for these activities must register.

The level of activity in some areas may be reduced or prioritised, for example border clearance and diagnostic work will be prioritised towards food supply and production and other essential goods.

Production Chain requirements

A reminder that production chains should achieve separation between staff and adopt mitigation measures, such as protective gear, where necessary.

For help

Primary sector businesses may contact MPI at 0800 00 83 33 or for further details on registering or the registration process.

We will do all we can to support the sector through this process. However, without these assurances, businesses will not be able to operate so I urge your action now.

We must continue working together to ensure our vital primary sectors can operate safely at this time.

2020 COVID-19 Key services

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24th of March update

Dear Packers and Exporters and Directors

An update as we haven’t heard as we expected to from MPI with formal notification of some still unclear questions.

We have been working with hort sectors and HortNZ to collate issues and questions from growers and industry organisations to assist in preparing Covid-19 risk management protocols and answering the key questions required by the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI) for growers, packhouses and horticulture industry services to remain in operation.

The priority questions we have asked MPI to answer are to do with aspects of production and other operations:
–    How to apply the 2m social distancing rule in an indoor and outdoor environment and other conditions that can be used when exact spacing isn’t practically possible?
–    Can growers and other individuals who perform essential services in the horticulture industry who are over 70 years of age be exempt from the governments general instruction of remaining at home?
–    Can the horticulture industry be prioritised access to personal protection equipment (PPE), by receiving a statement from MPI that can be used when making PPE orders with suppliers?
–    Can independent fresh fruit and vegetable shops remain open?
–    Will essential services workers in the horticulture industry need some sort of documentation for movement to/from their places of work? If so, what will they need?

MPI has committed to providing answers to these priority questions as soon as possible, however, we do not know when this will be. In the interim, essential service businesses are asked to use transitional arrangements that progressively move towards higher levels of on-site worker isolation to contain the risk of the virus spread.

Please also recognise that this is a very stressful time, and your health, both physical and mental is really important.

As I shared with my team today, we have all been given a new job, a new role as a New Zealander within a level 4 alert, required to take on quite a lot of new things to mitigate this pandemic.

People are being asked to look after children, or dependents, to stop doing what often is the fun in our lives, to distance ourselves, to isolate.

Doing any of these things is challenging. Doing all of them together at very short notice is very challenging, especially when we are also needing to maintain the essential services of food production.

So I ask that you do take time to make sure you are ok.

Ask for help if you’re not, and stay connected with friends, family, colleagues or your industry.

Please come back to me if you need more information and feel free to share this information as required.

Kind regards


23rd of March update

You will all be aware of today’s Government announcement that New Zealand is moving to COVID-19 alert Level 3 and shortly to Level 4. This impacts all of us and we urge all to take care, follow Government instructions and keep safe.

Regarding avocado production and supply, the New Zealand Government COVID-19 website states that essential businesses, and those that support them, will continue to provide the necessities of life for everyone in New Zealand.

This means food, medicine, healthcare, energy, fuel, waste-removal, internet and financial support will continue to be available.

COVID-19 horticulture industry update following move to Alert Levels 3 and 4

This evening, more than 80 primary sector representatives attended a teleconference hosted by MPI, to discuss essential services in the primary sector. While it hasn’t answered all queries, it has now provided some clarity about continuity of business.

All food and beverage producers and processors, and their supply chains, are deemed to be essential services. Which essential businesses are included in the definition of the supply chain is still being discussed with MPI.

All orchards, packhouses, cool stores and export entities are essential services. You can continue to operate, but there will be strict rules in place that allow you to continue to do so. 

A key message from the briefing was that “we can’t change the virus to suit your operational needs; but we can change your operational needs to suit the virus”. The expectation is that you must change the way that you operate (if you haven’t done so already) to minimise the risk of spreading the virus. There must be nowhere in your supply chain that will facilitate the spread of the virus.

Therefore, to remain open for business you must be able to address the following key questions:

•    How are you ensuring that your workers are observing social distancing at home, on the way to and from work, and while on breaks?

•    How are you ensuring that your staff observe the stay at home rules at the end of each working day?

•    What personal hygiene steps do you have in place with your staff?

•    What personal protection equipment do you have available for staff?

•    What steps have you taken to limit access to the workplace?

•    How are you isolating staff to contain the risk of spread (2m rule)?

•    What processes do you have in place for staff to report illness or report potential exposure?

•    What actions will you take in the event of a confirmed infection?

•    What steps have you taken to ensure that staff who are most at risk (i.e. over 70’s) identify and isolate themselves?

All businesses will be required to register with MPI and provide answers to these questions. The online registration system will be available in the next day or so.

If you cannot answer these questions satisfactorily, you will not be able to remain open.

Please pass this information on to your suppliers/supply chain partners. They will be subject to the same rules, and will also have to close if they cannot answer the questions satisfactorily.

We will continue to update this page with any new information  specific to the avocado industry and with any useful resources.

NZ Avocado staff are all able to work from home and are available to be contacted. Our direct contact details can be found here.

Thank you to all who registered for upcoming NZ Avocado field days and sustainability workshops. Unfortunately all planned face to face events for March and April are now cancelled. We are looking into whether we can host some of these events online through webinars or live streaming and will provide an update on this shortly. Updates on planned NZ Avocado events can be found at the here.

NZ Avocado has developed a COVID-19 communications plan and is in regular communication with other horticulture sector groups and government. We will communicate any updates that impact the avocado industry as soon as we are informed.

Stay safe

Jen Scoular

CEO NZ Avocado

17th of August update

The Director General of Health has approved class exemptions from Auckland’s cross-boundary travel restrictions during Alert Level 3 for horticultural workers, following a request from the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI).

Relevant workers crossing checkpoints will be required to show the following two letters as evidence of their exemption.
– An exemption letter from the Ministry of Health – download here
– A letter from their employer confirming they are crossing the checkpoint as part of work in essential services – download here

MPI guidance for workers moving between regions operating at different COVID-19 alert levels can be downloaded here .

Further government information about travel in and out of Auckland and exemptions for travel can be found here.

If you have any questions or concerns about crossing regional boundaries for avocado work, please do contact us on 07 571 6147.

Kia kaha, kia haumau,
Jen Scoular
CEO NZ Avocado


How to apply for financial help and where to get financial advice

Income support – outlines what’s available for workers/beneficiaries.

See also wage subsidies and leave payments.  

Business cashflow and tax – outlines support such as depreciation on commercial and industrial buildings; deductions for low value assets; increase in the threshold for small businesses having to pay provisional tax; and waiving interest and penalties on late tax payments for businesses affected by COVID-19. 

2020 – COVID-19 gazette notice horticulture workers
1 file(s) 9 downloads
Covid 24/08/2020
Ministry of Health Exemption letter
1 file(s) 45 downloads
Covid 16/08/2020
MPI safety guidance for Transit between regions at different ALs Aug 20
1 file(s) 14 downloads
Covid 16/08/2020
Detailed COVID19 Alert Level Table
1 file(s) 31 downloads
Covid 07/05/2020
COVID19 Alert Level Table
1 file(s) 24 downloads
Covid 07/05/2020
MPI Covid Guidance FINAL 13-4-20
0 file(s) 10 downloads
Covid 14/04/2020
2020-03 -Essential services- Letter for employee
1 file(s) 53 downloads
Covid 09/04/2020
2020-01 Confirmation of your registration as an essential business
1 file(s) 23 downloads
Covid 31/03/2020
MPI COVID Guidance
1 file(s) 56 downloads
Covid 30/03/2020
Covid19 Safe Workplace NZ Avocado
1 file(s) 51 downloads
Covid 27/03/2020
2020-03-26 PMAC update
1 file(s) 35 downloads
Covid 26/03/2020
Requirements for operating as an essential business
1 file(s) 73 downloads
Covid 25/03/2020
1 file(s) 30 downloads
Covid 26/03/2020
Press Release MPI Register for Safe Practice
1 file(s) 35 downloads
Covid 25/03/2020
2020 COVID-19 Register for Safe Practice FAQ
1 file(s) 36 downloads
Covid 25/03/2020
2020 COVID-19 Key services
1 file(s) 42 downloads
Covid 25/03/2020