By Jen Scoular, July 2020
I did what we are being persuaded to do, explore New Zealand, as I headed up to Kaikohe to attend the launch by Regional Development Minister Shane Jones for the Provincial Growth Fund (PGF) investment into the Ngāwhā Innovation and Enterprise Park. A 975km round trip by car from Tauranga, the journey took over 36 hours and I had never been to Ngunguru or Tutukaka before which are both stunning little communities on the coast from Whangarei. As always around New Zealand, I marvelled at the sudden change in colour, as the recent rains have transformed dry brown landscapes to sceneries glistening with vibrant green new grass growth.
We have a particular interest in Northland, where over 1,000 hectares has been planted in avocados over the past 3-4 years. Our interest is to ensure there is infrastructure to enable further development in the region including capability from skilled labour to packing and transport from orchard to wharf, and the services that are needed to accompany the production of safe, healthy food.
Some of my horticulture sector colleagues will be attending a similar function in Nelson this week, the launch of the Horticulture Strategy by Minister Damien O’Connor, which outlines how we collaborate and share to enable the horticulture sector to help pull New Zealand through the post covid era.
Another aim of the Horticulture Strategy is to flesh out how horticulture meets the objectives of the recently released Fit for a Better World, launched by Prime Minister Jacinda Adern. In both there is real recognition of the potential for horticulture to create value and jobs while producing amazing food with care. That care extends to care for our land, our people and our environment.
As the avocado industry we are taking on an industry structure review to ensure the structure we operate in currently is both fit for purpose now, and relevant for future growth. We also want to be fit for a better world. There are so many pressing priorities in normal life, then we add a global pandemic, a potential economic downturn and the start of the export season. New Zealand does pride itself on being agile, and we will all need that agility to navigate the waters ahead.
Our crop estimates are suggesting a 10% increase in volume in the year ahead, and our marketers are well on the way to securing good placement of that crop in Australia, and several Asian markets. Nothing right now is certain though, and we will keep abreast of day by day changes in the supply chains and consumer demand in all our markets.
We enjoyed a seamless move from the 2019-20 to the 2020-21 season in the New Zealand market, for the first time in many years, not suffering a significant decline in supply prior to the new season supply coming on stream. The wonderful health attributes of avocados will be at the front of our promotional activity to highlight the 19 vitamins and nutrients in an avocado. Delicious and nutritious, and grown in New Zealand – that certainly is a wonderful attribute to have at our finger tips.