The New Zealand avocado industry has grown from a high of $68m in 2011 to a forecast of over $200m in 2020. Almost 44,000 tonnes of avocados were harvested this season, with 4.9 million trays exported. Sales in the New Zealand market will top 2.5 million trays. New Zealand has over 4,000 hectares of avocado trees in production with a further 1,000 hectares recently planted now beginning to come into production.
Avocado supply to the New Zealand market runs year-round. and exports begin in July, with the main export season running from September to February.
New Zealand avocados are exported to 11 export markets including Australia, Thailand, China, Korea, Singapore, Taiwan, Japan and India.
"An increased global focus on health and keeping well has resulted in great opportunity for New Zealand to supply our natural, highly nutritious avocados to consumers. The New Zealand avocado industry is vibrant and growing and on track to achieve its vision to quadruple sales to $280m and triple productivity by 2023, and has a long term strategy to become a billion dollar industry by 2040," explains Jen Scoular, CEO NZ Avocado.
There are over 4,000 hectares of avocado trees planted in New Zealand. 54% of avocado production came from the Bay of Plenty in 2020 with 39% coming out of the Northland. The remaining avocado production came from South Auckland, the Coromandel and Gisborne.
Current research shows that avocado growing regions in New Zealand receive 2-3 times the required amount of annual rainfall to produce avocados, but not all that rainfall comes when the tree needs it. In some cases avocado growers store and use water for frost protection and irrigation. Avocado growers in New Zealand work within the requirements of their local councils and environmental agencies to ensure that they comply with New Zealand’s Resource Management Act to ensure water allocation and use is carried out in a sustainable way.
NZ Avocado is undertaking a life cycle assessment (LCA) study to determine the carbon footprint of avocados grown in New Zealand. The LCA project will measure inputs and outputs across New Zealand avocado orchards, post-harvest and onward distribution to market. The results will be used to benchmark environmental impacts and sustainability of New Zealand grown avocados.
"As an industry we are embarking on an avocado sustainability journey and we are prepared to review and change practices where it is identified that more positive outcomes could be achieved. NZAGA, the New Zealand growers association recognises that consumers want to know that the avocados they buy have been produced in a way that looks after the environment, ensuring future generations can grow and enjoy avocados.
First nationwide avocado crop estimate 2021 season
New Zealand is anticipating a near-record crop volume for the 2021 season, with hundreds of hectares of new plantings coming further into production and a good crop currently hanging on the trees. Although it has been dry in some regions for extended periods, the growing season has provided more consistent rainfall than the previous season which is encouraging for tree health and fruit size.
"We are currently undertaking the first nationwide avocado crop estimate for the 2021 season. The final estimate is not yet available, however early indications show a good volume of good sized avocados on healthy trees. We anticipate a total crop volume similar to the season just ended, however the total crop and export packout can still be impacted by environmental factors between now and the end of the export season."
2020 avocado season
New Zealand has recently completed the 2020 avocado season, which produced the highest volume in four years, with volumes for export up 10% on the previous season.
"Demand for avocados from New Zealand has been strong in our largest export markets Australia, Thailand and Taiwan. New Zealand avocado volumes to Australia are up 45% on the previous season, with a combination of a short Australian domestic supply and good New Zealand export packouts contributing to the increase. Volumes are down slightly in New Zealand’s top Asian markets Thailand and Taiwan, and down quite considerably in Korea and China, where sea and air freight disruption impacted on New Zealand exports."
The NZ avocado industry worked collaboratively to gain market access and to start exporting to China in 2018 and India in 2013. These are the newest markets for avocados from New Zealand.
"Our first NZ Avocado promotion campaign in Taiwan was executed in 2020. NZ Avocado exports to Taiwan have grown rapidly in the past three seasons, this season Taiwan was New Zealand’s third largest market by export volume. The campaign focussed on connecting the New Zealand avocado story with target consumers in Taiwan through a social media campaign and influencer promotion activity."
World Avocado Congress 2023
New Zealand was voted by global avocado growers as the next country to host the World Avocado Congress to showcase the global avocado industry in 2023.
"We feel a strong sense of responsibility to avocado growers and marketers around the world to demonstrate the advances being made in responsible and sustainable avocado growing, and New Zealand will be the ideal location to do that in 2023."
April 2023 has been identified as a likely time to host the event and a committee of world avocado leaders is being formed to steer the event preparation and decide upon the theme and focus of the congress.
"With advances being made around the world in avocado growing, reducing environmental impacts, improving efficiencies in the supply chain, as well as amazing avocado nutrition and health research it is sure to be a popular event. We look forward to demonstrating some of New Zealand’s own avocado innovations at the event also."