AU: Australian avocado industry set for record numbers

Australia is on track to produce a record 75,000 tonnes of avocados in 2017-18, according to its peak industry body Avocados Australia. 

CEO John Tyas says he hopes that figure can increase to above 100,000 by 2025, with supply currently met by strong demand across all seasons.

"The market has been strong for avocados through winter, a reflection of the demand from consumers," Mr Tyas said. "Traditionally, avocados were seen as a summer fruit and used in salads and for brunch. Now, we have a customer base that’s comfortable with using avocado at any meal between breakfast and dessert and that’s made a real difference for demand."

Australians ate about 86,000 tonnes of avocados in the past 12 months, cementing their place among the highest consumers of avocados in the English-speaking world.

"Based on the latest industry figures, Australians ate about 3.5 kilograms of avocado per person in 2016/17, a significant jump from 3.2kg/person the previous year. To meet that demand, domestically we supplied 66,000 tonnes of avocado in 2016/17, with the balance coming from New Zealand during the summer months. The major impact on prices is consumer demand across all seasons."

When it comes to exports, Avocados Australia sees huge potential in export markets, as Mr Tyas notes the country is currently a small player in the world avocado market, producing less than 2 per cent of the global production of avocados. 

"Ongoing activity is underway targeting Australia’s growth in export markets. For example, in Malaysia and Singapore - our current main export markets - we are part of a collaborative project to increase consumer confidence in avocados, particularly by taking a “ripe and ready to eat” approach, and also by working with supply chain partners to improve ripening and handling skills. Our industry has a goal to export at least 10 per cent of Australia's avocado production by 2021 and we know that with the increasing supply of avocados in the coming years, the development of premium export markets will be very important for our industry."

Avocados Australia took part in the recent tradeshow Asia Fruit Logistica in Hong Kong, with the aim to gauge what demand there is for Australian avocados in Asian markets. Mr Tyas says he definitely had a positive response.

"We built awareness of the quality and supply capabilities of Australian avocados to these markets," he said. "The take home message was very clearly that we’re not the only ones competing for a share of the Asian demand for avocado and we have to position ourselves to take advantage of our key points of difference: quality and food safety."
He also says progress is being made in key markets, such as mainland China where Australia currently has no access.

"The Australian avocado industry is proactively working now to have additional export market access in place so that when production does exceed domestic demand, we’re ready," Mr Tyas said. "For example, this year avocados were prioritised through Hort Innovation for market access negotiations into China, with the Australian Government. This is a small but crucial step toward eventual access."

The forecast increase in supply volumes is able to be measured by new plantings across the country, with new producers switching to the fruit because of its consumer popularity and growth as an industry.
"It’s definitely encouraging to see new players enter the avocado industry," he said. "As a tree crop, there is a lag between planting new orchards and harvest which means any investment in avocados recognises the long-term future of the industry. We aim to build demand ahead of supply and hopefully all new growers will contact us so we can help them with best practice information."

For more information:
John Tyas
Avocados Australia
Phone: +61 7 3846 6566

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