The world is coming to us – bringing the global avocado sector to New Zealand

23 March 2023

This time the world is coming to New Zealand. New Zealand exporters are so used to getting on a long haul flight, laptop in hand, to meet and make new customers, understand the market and promote their product or service.

In just over a week the global avocado business community descends on Aotearoa New Zealand for the first ever World Avocado Congress, hosted here in New Zealand.

1,147 delegates from 32 countries will converge on Auckland this week, making this probably the largest ever delegation to a horticulture event in New Zealand. Over 750 delegates come from outside New Zealand, but almost all delegates will be visiting Auckland, as most NZ growers are coming from the regions. It will be a great boost to the Auckland economy, and we know many of the delegates are taking time to see a bit more of NZ before and after the Congress.

We debated whether to have coffee carts at the venue, but then thought, why not support the local cafes, so instead we have listed the local cafes on the congress app, and will encourage our delegates to step outside the congress and enjoy coffee, NZ style, in our of the many Auckland cafes.

Eight different fielddays will take 760 delegates to South Auckland, Northland and Bay of Plenty, to visit orchards and packhouses, to hear science presentations and see New Zealand agritech businesses in operation.

“We are showcasing our wonderful country, our growers, our technology and of course our avocado sector” says Jen Scoular, CEO of New Zealand Avocado and President of the World Avocado Congress Committee.

Lynwood nursery in Whangarei woke after cyclone Gabrielle to flooded avocado blocks, trees knocked out of the ground and shelter belts smashed. Lynwood are hosting delegates for the 10th World Avocado Congress and after the cyclone seriously considered whether that was still viable. But with encouragement they have pulled out all stops to clear that flooding and damaged orchard and thank fully are still able to host. Many growers in Whangarei were hit hard, and have been very appreciative of the quickly implemented government support.

New Zealand companies are demonstrating their products on orchard, Plant and Food Research are presenting four topics under a marquee at David French’s avocado and kiwifruit orchard and delegates will be taken through the brand new MAF RODA technology installed at Just Avocados packhouse in Katikati, owned by kiwi gold sponsor Darling Group. Darling Group have recently restructured their kiwi management team to increase headcount in Australia to support their international fruit business. Delegates will be treated to the park like orchard of Maria and Andrew Watchorn, near Tauranga, our top performing growers for the last four years.

“Delegates will be blown away as they drive into Marias orchard. It is a very beautiful landscape and growers amazingly productive avocado trees, a great demonstration of commitment to the application of best practice, but taking it the next step to question and improve best practice on your own soil, for your own trees.

TOMRA Food will offer a tour of their Auckland premises prior to the congress as an additional networking opportunity.

At the Congress in Auckland New Zealand exporters will exhibit in front of over 1,150 delegates from 32 countries, 750 of those from outside New Zealand. 35% of those delegates list agritech as a reason for being at the congress.

Radfords Software CEO Adam Cuming says, “It is a fantastic opportunity to meet with existing and potential customers on home turf, to be able to share a little bit of New Zealand with them right here and discuss how Radfords software supports getting nearly 80% of New Zealand’s $4billion horticultural exports to export markets. We are looking forward to a great trade show and congress.”

New Zealand delegates will hear from over 140 presenters from outside New Zealand, on topics from science in avocados to consumer marketing to the sustainability initiates of Chile, Peru and the US. To have that new knowledge being shared in New Zealand is adding real value to many sectors.

With the recent weather events in New Zealand, climate change and sustainability will be a hot global topic at the Congress, where the theme is “respectful; respect for people, respect for the environment, respect for our future”. Dr Brent Clothier presents his climate change research and expertise as a key note speaker, Florence Van Dyke, recognised as a sustainable business leader in Aotearoa New Zealand and internationally, ranking in Forbes’ 30 Under 30 for Asia-Pacific in 2019 shares her story and Francisco Mena, arriving from Chile, is a partner of a company which focuses on sustainability and the development of tools to increase grower profitability on the long term.

For New Zealanders wanting to understand how the world sees New Zealand, the networking and engagement opportunities with delegates from 32 countries will enable better understanding and create life long connections. If we want to know what Mexicans think of New Zealand – we can ask them, 190 of them are attending the Congress, bringing their culture, avocado knowledge and passion with them. How do you think Mexicans will describe New Zealand?

Steve Trickett, from sponsor Avoco (who export 60% of NZ’s avocados) says that their growers will have the opportunity to really understand the global business they are in. Getting first hand presentations on global supply and demand, on production around the world and on consumer marketing of avocado. It’s so important growers learn about what happens after their avocados leave their orchard.

“As an avocado sector we are both passionate and engaged, says Scoular. “We recognise the amazing opportunity with the world coming to us. Delegates will learn so much from this congress, its professional development you can’t get anywhere else. Learning, sharing, and understanding our global customers, networks and scientists – this congress has the ability to unlock amazing and diverse opportunities. We know our sponsors, exhibitors, speakers and delegates will leverage that opportunity”.

About New Zealand Avocado

The New Zealand avocado industry has enjoyed strong growth from 2014 to 2021 towards a vision to quadruple sales and triple productivity by 2023. The value returned to New Zealand increased from $60m in 2012-13 to $233m in 2020-21, greenfields avocado orchards were planted on mass in our poorest regions, particularly in the Far North, mostly conversions from dairy. This helped create jobs and value. A very impressive job training scheme has been put in place in the Far North, enabling jobs for previously unemployed in Kaitaia, and most recently, setting up a bus pickup after the kids have gone to school, for mums able to work for the 5-6 hours each day, to be dropped back home before the kids get home from school. The avocado industry supports women in horticulture, young grower of the year, and offers excellent opportunities for all genders, religions and cultures.

Avocados have 19 nutrients and vitamins, are the only fruit containing protein, carbohydrate and good fats, and are an amazing addition to every meal. What would you substitute an avocado for? Nothing, if you want an avocado, you really want an avocado.

The past two seasons have been very challenging, with weather, oversupply of our major market, Australia, and covid related supply chain issues.

Cyclone Gabrielle hit the growing region around Whangarei hardest. New trees were ripped out of the ground, shelter belts smashed and large tree toppled over. NZ Avocado advocated with other sectors for relief funding and are very pleased that avocados growers were able to take up the government funds offered. Next steps are reclaiming trees if growers are able to, repairing shelter belts and just getting on with being a horticulturalist.

The sector’s excellent industry systems supports strong market access and increasing volumes are being shipped across 8 Asian markets, following an earlier reliance on the Australian market.

Many of these issues are being discussed collectively at the 10th World Avocado Congress.

New Zealand is the ninth largest international avocado exporter globally. There are over 5,000 hectares of avocado trees planted in New Zealand, primarily in the Bay of Plenty and Northland.

For more information visit www.nzavocado.co.nz or follow us on social @NZ_Avocado @Jen_Scoular

For any media enquires about 2023 World Avocado Congress please contact: communications@nzavocado.co.nz

 

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