NZ World Avocado Congress

By Elaine Fisher

Growers wearing t-shirts with the words “Kia ora” and “Vote NZ”, videos of stunning New Zealand scenery and an endorsement from Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern were all part of the very persuasive campaign which helped New Zealand win the bid to host the 2023 World Avocado Congress.

New Zealand Avocado CEO Jen Scoular says winning the support of 64 per cent of 1100 voting delegates, from a total of 3,200 who attended this year’s congress in Columbia was the culmination of; “an awful lot of work by the immediate team from NZ Avocados, New Zealand growers and fantastic support from the wider NZ Inc team to get our bid across the line.”

In a video clip, Jacinda Ardern invited voters to come and experience New Zealand’s natural beauty, unique adventures, friendly people, and to see its incredible avocado industry. She encouraged attendees at the Medellin event to choose New Zealand as the destination for the 2023 WAC.

NZ Avocado’s bid was also supported by Tourism New Zealand, the New Zealand Embassy in Colombia and NZTE. The Ambassador in Colombia, Lucy Duncan hosted a VIP event and spoke at the congress, strongly supporting NZ Avocado in their bid to win.

Well prepared to win hearts and minds, every single presentation New Zealand made had the same background and consistent key messages.  “We included Te Reo and talked about New Zealand culture. A very obvious “please vote for New Zealand” in Spanish ended each presentation.

“Winning the vote is the result of fantastic support from my team at New Zealand Avocado, who have shown an amazing commitment, enthusiasm and passion for this bid.

NZ Avocado market manager Bevan Jelley implemented a fantastic programme which worked really well. We had real buy in from all New Zealand growers who very happily wore the “Kia ora” and “Vote NZ” t-shirts we provided.” Guests who attended the lunch sponsored by NZ Avocados received gifts of New Zealand souvenirs too.

The venue for the New Zealand congress and how many delegates are expected are yet to be determined but Jen says NZ Avocado, as host, has the support of fellow international organisations.

“We have positive support from the CEOs and chairs of avocado producing organisations who are happy to help with what we may need to ensure a very successful congress.”

Jen says 2023 WAC will have a line-up of top national and international speakers. “The congress will be a platform for New Zealand researchers to demonstrate new science to the avocado world and for leading international scientists to do the same. It will also be an opportunity for New Zealand growers to learn what is happening around the world in new research and innovations.”
The 2023 WAC has the potential to boost New Zealand’s economy too as many delegates are expected to combine attending with a holiday here.

NZ Avocado’s research manager Phillip West says while avocado producers came together to share the latest research and information for the benefit of all at the World Avocado Congress 2019 in Medellin, Colombia in September.

“The sharing of information both during the formal presentations and informally during networking was very open as we all face similar issues,” says Phillip.

The three-day congress attracted a record 3,200 attendees from around the world. “There were representatives and growers from the major growing countries, including South Africa, the USA, Mexico, Peru, Chile, Australia, Israel, and Kenya and also from the post-harvest, logistics and marketing sectors including from Europe.”

NZ Avocado was represented by a team of six staff and three directors including CEO Jen Scoular and chairman Tony Ponder, who were joined by more than 30 growers, researchers and other representatives of the New Zealand industry.

The world’s leading experts in avocado research, plant breeding, postharvest, marketing, health and safety and food safety, including scientists from New Zealand’s Plant & Food Research and members of NZ Avocado’s team were among the congress speakers, says Phillip who delivered two presentations at the event.

As well as the bids to host 2023 WAC, Jen made a presentation on developing a sustainable avocado industry in New Zealand. Presentations were also delivered by four other NZ Avocado team members and by Plant & Food Research.

Phillip says there was a focus at the congress on the economical use of water and fertiliser, on new rootstocks as well as canopy management and trellising or espalier training of trees.

“Work on new varieties which are more salt tolerant and varieties with smaller seeds, or which are more productive was also presented. Research into the biennial bearing of avocado trees is on-going.”

The congress included pre-congress and post-congress tours which gave delegates the opportunity to see something of Columbia and experience its culture, as well as visit avocado orchards and other Columbian primary industries.

Phillip says New Zealand, which is the world’s ninth largest avocado exporter, is well respected on the international stage for the fruit it produces and its research, which is reflected in the fact that New Zealand won the bid to host the 2023 World Avocado Congress.

“Winning the bid was a major focus for us and we had wonderful support from growers, Tourism NZ, MFAT, NZTE and a video message to vote New Zealand from our Prime Minister. .”

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