Avocado industry continues strong growth

June 2021

New Zealand’s avocado industry value eclipsed $227m in the 2020-21 season, with $167m delivered by avocado exports and $60m in sales in the New Zealand market.

“This is an extraordinary result for the avocado industry” says NZ Avocado CEO Jen Scoular. “Facing the season with Covid lockdowns, significant freight disruption, an inability to meet face to face with customers and a small fruit profile, it is a credit to the entire value chain to achieve this record result.”

The 2020 New Zealand avocado season produced a record export volume and total crop volume. 44,000 tonnes of avocados were harvested, with 5.1 million trays (5.5kg) exported to 11 export markets, an increase of 10% on the previous season.  54% of New Zealand’s avocado production came from the Bay of Plenty region in 2020 with 39% coming out of the Northland.

NZ Avocado Growers’ Association Chair Linda Flegg says “Returns to growers for export and domestic avocados were very pleasing given the uncertainty at the beginning of the season around the impacts of Covid on our markets, and the disruption to global freight and logistics. Our avocado exporters and NZ marketers did extremely well to achieve successful outcomes for growers despite the challenges.”

Demand for avocados from New Zealand was strong in export markets Australia, Thailand and Taiwan with avocado volumes to Australia up 45% on the previous season. A combination of a short Australian domestic avocado supply and good New Zealand export pack outs contributed to the increase.

Australia was New Zealand’s largest market for avocado exports receiving more than 4.2 million (5.5kg) trays. In 2020, domestic production in Western Australia was depleted which allowed for more imports.

Around 500,000 trays of avocados were exported to eight markets across Asia. Of those Thailand was the largest market, followed by Taiwan and Singapore. Volumes were down in some markets, where sea and air freight disruption had a major impact on New Zealand’s avocado exports.

The New Zealand market also delivered good value for avocados. “Around 2.5 million trays worth over $60m were sold in New Zealand in the 2020 season. The New Zealand market is the second largest market for New Zealand avocados and has seen significant growth in the past five years, from what was a $30m market in 2015. We continue to invest in avocado promotion in New Zealand to communicate the wonderful nutrients and versatility of avocados to New Zealand consumers” says Scoular.

A smaller average fruit size was another challenge encountered in 2020, with a significant increase in the percentage of small sized avocados in the crop. “Thankfully early indications show our fruit size is looking larger for the coming season and more in line with New Zealand’s historical avocado fruit size profile” says Flegg.

Further developing markets for avocados from New Zealand will remain a priority in 2021, with Australian domestic supply forecast to increase considerably this year and over the coming five years. “Demand for avocados continues to increase in markets across Asia, the key challenge will be meeting export plans and delivering premium quality New Zealand avocados to these markets during a time of continued disruption to global freight and logistics” says Flegg.

Planning is underway to host the biggest avocado gathering in the world, the World Avocado Congress in 2023. The four yearly event represents an extraordinary opportunity for the avocado industry to come together in New Zealand from around the globe and showcase avocados to the world. The opportunity is ripe for avocados and for the wider horticulture and agriculture sectors to share stories of New Zealand’s sustainable food production.

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