Kiwis have long held the pole position as New Zealand's premier-earning horticultural crop, generating almost 50 percent of the six billion dollars earned by the fruit and produce sector last year. But now, avocados are a crop moving up in the ranks and bringing some valuable land-use changes to a region keen for increased investment and employment opportunities.
Last year the sector generated $150 million in sales from 6.4 million trays of fruit, with two-thirds of that being export income. The industry has high hopes for expansion, with a target of $1 billion worth of sales set for 2040.
Much of the land change shift is coming in Northland where large scale syndicates and kiwi investment is helping change the landscape from what has been largely pastoral, dry stock and dairy properties to expansive orchard operations.
In the coming years, the rate of expansion is expected to shift the balance of avocado orchards shared between Northland and Bay of Plenty from its present 40:60 split to nearer 50:50. This expansion is based upon some promising market outlooks for New Zealand avocados.