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NZ avocado growers expect bumper crop, target Aussies

The avocado industry is expecting a record harvest this season - up about 40% cent on the previous high, according to a NZ Herald report.

NZ Avocado Growers' Association chief executive Jen Scoular said the crop estimate this season was for about 5.9 million trays, compared to the previous largest crop of 4.2 million in 2007-08, and just over 3 million trays last year.

Scoular said growers have had a very good growing season leading up to flowering and pollination and fruit set nearly a year ago.

"I think growers are also being more proactive in terms of nutrition and orchard management on the basis of wanting to ensure that they do increase their yield on their trees."

The sector was worth about $65 million last year, including about $18-$20 million in the domestic market, and it was hoped it would rise to $85-$90 million this year.

Australia was expected to account for about 75-80% of exports and New Zealand had about half the market from November to February, Scoular said.

The export season harvest ran from September until February, while the local market harvest starts a couple of months earlier.

The biggest challenge for the industry was the alternate bearing nature of orchards, which resulted in larger crops followed by smaller ones, she said.

"It's very difficult to do new market development when you're actually only able to supply that new market every second year, which has tended to be the case."

The association was spending $500,000 on a marketing campaign aimed at persuading Australians to add an avocado to their daily diet, which included about 30,000 samples since October, magazine advertising and the delivery of recipes by a mobile phone application.

Avocado recipes would be the feature on the Dinner Spinner mobile phone application through December and January.

Meanwhile, exports to Japan were expected to be just over 400,000 trays, compared to 99,436 in 2010-11, and the sector also shipped to a number of other Asian markets.

"We're top on the list for China and India to get phytosanitary allowance to export into those two countries ... they offer huge potential for us," Scoular said.

Avocado retail pricing in New Zealand was very reasonable for consumers with the larger harvest and supermarkets' desire to increase sales, she said.

More at NZ Herald