October 2020 Blog
By Jen Scoular
We have recently surveyed a selection of growers to understand what motivates them to become avocado growers. We used a local company, What Lies Beneath, and asked them to help us find out what growers were thinking, why they became avocado growers and how confident they are about their future in avocados.
All respondents acknowledged the challenges of growing a sub-tropical fruit in the bay’s temperate climate. The volatility of production, and therefore returns also came up in most responses, with some great years but also those awful years when a grower has little or no crop at all. We heard that growers were very keen to talk about their investment, energised by avocados themselves as an amazing product and in fact, mostly saying the challenge, although bigger than expected, was one they were enjoying taking on. It was unexpected to hear how many of those growers surveyed ended up in avocados almost incidentally. I loved the story about a couple going to look at an orchard to buy, back 15 or so years, and the little girl next door said she liked avocado better than icecream. Confirmation of a great product.
Our industry is also undertaking a much more comprehensive review of its structure, with an intention to ensure the industry is well set up for the future. An independent company, Primary Purpose, is asking stakeholders whether they are confident about their investment in avocados, about the structures in place that support that investment, and about their view on the future of their investment.
The industry operates under the Horticulture Export Authority Act, the Commodity Levies Act and the NZ Avocado Growers Association Incorporated. The HEA Act requires all exporters of avocados to get an export licence from HEA, and it requires the industry, growers, packers, exporters and NZ Avocado to operate under an Export Marketing Strategy (the rulebook). All packers are required to be MPI approved organisations, and all export growers must have a contract with both the packer and an exporter, as well as being registered with NZ Avocado.
Growers receive services from their packer, exporter and the industry body and pay for those services through various levies, fees and commissions. An online survey has already had nearly 200 responses and we are hoping many more industry stakeholders will take the time to share their views. It is important to take a critical look at the structure in place, as we want to operate in a way that all parties get value from this industry which most certainly includes the consumer of avocados who we depend upon to grow our industry.