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Kick start for avocados in Japan

The New Zealand avocado industry got the perfect season-opening kick-start with former All Black Jerome Kaino at its media launch in Japan this week.

New Zealand growers are planning to export 320,000 trays of avocados to the lucrative Japanese market this summer, tapping into an ever-increasing demand for the fruit among Asian consumers.

Jerome Kaino in Japan.

The Japanese market presents exporters with excellent opportunities in both growth and volume, says Jen Scoular, Chief Executive of New Zealand Avocado Growers’ Association Inc (NZAGA), who attended the opening event at the New Zealand Embassy in Tokyo on Thursday.

"Having ex-All Black Jerome Kaino’s support lifted the occasion. It was superb to have his super stardom backing and support for the industry at this key launch. Japan’s Miss World also attended, proclaiming her love of avocados.

“The local media also commented that New Zealand avocados look the most attractive in their stores, which was great to hear.”

Jerome enjoyed the event, saying it was great to be involved in promoting New Zealand avocados in Tokyo.

“The atmosphere was awesome. It made me very proud of New Zealand."

Jerome, who now plays for Japan’s Toyota Verblitz team, epitomised the event’s theme – “The Best of New Zealand in Japan” – telling media of his liking for avocado and Marmite on toast.

Fifty-eight Japanese media attended and were keen to learn more about New Zealand.

“The outlook for the Japanese market remains very positive and our efforts last year to raise the profile of our industry there are clearly paying off,” says Jen.

“The opportunity for New Zealand to supply highly nutritious, responsibly grown avocados to meet the demands of the increasingly wealthy and health conscious South East Asian market is excellent.

“Much work has been done over recent years to educate and inform the Japanese importers, consumers and media of our avocados and their health and nutritional benefits. This is a hugely valuable market for us.”

Focus on the Japanese market has intensified following success last year and increased emphasis on developing new markets for the fruit, most specifically in South East Asia.

Ambassador Mark Sinclair hosted Scoular and NZAGA Chairman John Schnackenberg, plus six exporter representatives.

The three New Zealand exporters AVANZA, NZAVO and Seeka have made their mark in Japan over recent years.

They are a consolidation of the eight that were active in Japan last season as the New Zealand industry presents a more united approach to overseas marketing.

Representatives from Olivado, The Grove and Fressure Foods were also in attendance to show the best of New Zealand’s avocado products.
This year also signals a turning point for the avocado industry in New Zealand.

For the first time, a five-year plan has been implemented, focusing on strengthening and growing value through an expanding export market.

Grower support of the plan was shown through the recent Commodity Levy Referendum which resulted in majority support from voters for the funding structure of the organisation for the next six years.

As avocados become an increasingly important export commodity for New Zealand, Jen says a holistic approach is now critical to its future progress and consolidation.

“Our focus is on bringing the industry together, uniting all fronts so that we can be stronger together. We have some exciting plans and strategies to this effect that will be rolled out over the coming years and this really marks the start of those plans,” explains Scoular.
Although the tray numbers to Japan will be down slightly on last year’s bumper crop of 372,500 trays exported, the fruit is expected to fetch a premium.

The fruit is also predicted to be superior in quality to the dominant Mexican supply at the time the New Zealand fruit hits the shelves.

This year’s effort is still well up on 99,436 trays supplied during the 2010-2011 season.


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