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Anthony Allen - CEO, The Avolution

Avocados beat bananas in Australian supermarkets

In recent years there has been a huge increase in volumes of avocados grown in Australia, this had been driven by large investment in marketing the health benefits of the fruit.

"The marketing campaign has increased awareness of the avocado at a consumer level by building a connection with the product," explains Anthony Allen, CEO of the Avolution. "This has been done by linking popular products, such as the well known Aussie favourite Vegemite, with the avocado, by featuring it on the jars. The big muti-nationals such as McDonald, Subway and Burger King have also been promoting the avocado. These big brands are interested because the Australian avocado industry has positioned the product well, and others want to be associated with it."

The Avolution is a marketing company established to provide avocado and lychee growers with quality service and solid financial returns. They support a group of 100 growers supplying around 2 million, 5.5kg trays each year.

"Two weeks out of four avocados will be ahead of bananas on square meter returns in the supermarkets. Bananas by far beat avocados by volume, but the avocado wins in returns per meter every time, the fact that banana prices are also quite low contributes."

The avocado is one of the more expensive fruits on the shelf, but consumers are willing to pay for it according to Allen. "People have built them into their cuisine and lifestyle and understand the health, taste and versatility of the product. There is no other fruit you can work into every meal from breakfast to supper."

'Ripe and ready' make up 85% of avocado sales in Australia, research points to consumers visiting supermarkets more frequently and buying produce to eat the same day or next day, this is a growing trend.

The Avolution does not ripen the avocados themselves but instead use contract ripeners and manage the process intricately, "The company is built on the model of sticking to what you know and doing it well. We also partner with supply chain companies because they know their business and do it well," says Allen.

Avocados are grown throughout Australia and in Tasmania, giving a year round supply from the far north right down to Victoria and WA.

The company exports to Singapore and Malaysia, which still have great potential. Next on the radar are China and India. Australia does not yet have access to these markets but Allen said it wasn't far away.

"When these markets open up the demand will be huge, so it is a long term process. To be honest if these markets opened up tomorrow we would struggle to meet the demand," admits Allen.

The Avolution produces around 20% of the 10 million trays produced in Australia, which they intend to increase to a third (3.3 million trays) in the next few years. Allen expects the industry as a whole will grow by about 50% to produce around 15-17 million trays in the next 5-10 years. It is a large increase but the industry is very careful to balance this out with demand, he adds.

The main variety grown in Australia is the Hass with 80%, there is also some Shepherd, a very typical Australian variety which grows well in the Australian climate.

For more information:
Peter Lochhead
Tel: +61 2 9361 6099

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