Avocado

Australian avocado production grows

In the past decade production of avocados has nearly doubled, projected to 115,000 tonnes by 2025
At 77,000 tonnes in 2017/18 the Australian avocado industry is on a long term upward trajectory.

“One-third of Australia’s avocado trees have yet to reach their prime production years but enough of the new plantings have come on line this year to boost the industry above last year’s 66,000 tonnes,” said Avocados Australia CEO, John Tyas.

Tyas says by 2025 the industry is on track to produce around 115,000 tonnes annually.

“Our production in 2017/18 was 17 per cent more than the previous year, with a gross value of production estimated at A$557 million.”

Domestic consumption has held steady for a second year in a row at 3.5kg per person, per year, but Tyas is confident there is more room for growth.

Most of the Australian supply is grown in Queensland, who host 62 per cent of plantings, second to Western Australia at 25 per cent, followed by New South Wales, Victoria and Australia.

“In 2017/18 Hass represented 78 per cent of production. Shepard, a green-skin variety grown in Queensland through late Summer and Autumn, made up 19 per cent of production, and at that time of year, is the dominant Australian variety on the market.”

To help balance supply and demand in future, Avocados Australia is working with Hort Innovation to expand both domestic and international markets. “At the moment we export less than five per cent of our production annually, but that will increase as our production increases,” Tyas said.

Currently Malaysia and Singapore are the main export markets for Australian avocados.

Source: http://www.fruitnet.com Author: Camellia Aebischer

Mexican avocado producers seek to export to Australia and New Zealand

The Broad and Progressive Agreement of the Trans-Pacific Partnership (CPTPP), also known as the TPP-11, has allowed Mexican avocado producers to set their sights on the markets of Australia and New Zealand.

The two countries are important avocado producers in that region, but they have a very marked seasonal crop and, therefore, are complementary markets, said Ramon Paz Vega, the strategic adviser of the Association of Producers and Packers Exporters of Avocado in Mexico (APEAM).

Given this situation, and coupled with the growing demand in both nations, Mexico could take advantage of this opportunity and export its avocados to these markets when they lack local production, Paz Vega stated in an interview with Notimex.

Even though its difficult to enter these two markets because of the strict phytosanitary measures they have, Mexico has already started some negotiations in order to enter them.

For the moment, Mexico will continue exporting its avocados to Japan, where 95 percent of the avocado is imported from Mexico, which doesn't have any tariffs or any other barrier for this product there, he said.

Singapore is also an attractive market for Mexican avocados and producers expect to send at least four thousand tons of avocados there at the end of the harvest season, i.e. on June 30, he said.

Paz Vega also said this year's production would amount to just over two million tons, i.e. 10 percent more than the previous year. 835 thousand tons of the production will be sent to the United States, the main export market of the Mexican product.

The CPTPP represents a market of 372 million potential consumers and representatives of the 11 countries of the Asia-Pacific region - Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Canada, Chile, Japan, Malaysia, Mexico, New Zealand, Peru, Singapore and Vietnam - signed the agreement on March 8.

This established the largest free trade area in the world, with modern disciplines that meet the challenges of 21st century economies.

According to the Ministry of Economy (SE), Mexico will obtain significant and immediate access to 90 percent of the block's market. This will allow it to diversify its economy by opening preferential access to six new markets -Australia, Brunei Darussalam, Malaysia, New Zealand, Singapore and Vietnam - and deepen its access to the Japanese agricultural market.


Source: Notimex via www.freshplaza.com 

Publication date: 6/6/2018

WA Avocado growers looking forward to developing market in Japan

A Western Australian avocado packer has welcomed new market access to Japan, saying it will be needed to help ensure growers get a good price for their produce into the future.

Last week, the Australian government reached a new protocol agreement for Hass avocados with Japan, and will be calling for applications for accreditation for growers in the coming weeks. Managing Director of Karri Country Produce, Jennie Franceschi, says at the current rate of industry expansion producers will need new markets like this to develop, with a major increase in volume forecast for coming years.

"It's a positive step as there are a lot of trees in the ground and production in Australia is going to be increasing significantly," she said. "So the figures I have been given by industry, there are 30 per cent of trees not producing and 20 per cent of trees that are producing, but not in full production. So that means half the trees in the ground are either not producing or under producing. I always think it's important to have many market distribution channels."

She praised the Australian Government for getting this access, saying the more supply channels available means more diversity and therefore more stability. Ms Franceschi adds that prices are "not exciting" for growers at the moment due to the amount of fruit on the market.

"The industry as a whole is under a bit of pressure at the moment," Ms Franceschi said. "We haven't seen these sort of returns in around five years. I think it's just getting people to eat them. There have been some very good sales, but it just hasn't encouraged more people to buy. So it's not really price, and I am not sure why people are not buying. There are good volumes around and very good quality. So, if you look at the current pricing in Australia, we will be very effective up there (in Japan)."

Initially the opportunity will only be available to fruit fly free areas, such as Western Australia, Riverland (South Australia) and Tasmania, and Ms Franceschi admits there may not be huge number of volumes at first, as growers get an understanding of the market.

"I don't think there will be huge quantities, but I will definitely be putting some fruit up there," she said. "Just to understand the lay of the land, as I think that's important to do that and learn. I have worked with the Japanese lately and I have found them to be honourable. They are hard, like you've got to go through a process, but they are very honourable. So I think it's very promising."

Among Australia's advantages is the proximity to Asia, meaning the fruit can get to market fairly quickly as well as Australia's clean and green image. This has put the produce high on the list for many Asian countries, according to Ms Franceschi, who conducted her own taste testing while recently in Malaysia.

"They had some fruit from other countries, as well as fruit from Australia - not Western Australian, but East Coast fruit," Ms Franceschi said. "We bought some from other countries, because we wanted to understand why our fruit was retailing for more, which was quite a premium over these other countries. I wanted to see if there was a legitimate reason for this. But when we cut the fruit there wasn't a very good seed in one, and the flavour wasn't the same. So everyone who tried it, all picked the Aussie avocado as being of a superior flavour and there was also more flesh."

The Hass season is underway in the east but the west is still a few months away. The last estimates put the Western Australian crop at a similar level as last season, but with winter to get through, those numbers are expected to firm up at a later date.

For more information:
Jennie Franceschi
Karri Country Produce
Phone: +61 8 9777 2246
Publication date: 5/31/2018
Author: Matthew Russell
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com

Australian Hass to Japan approved for access

Hass avocados from Australia can now be officially exported to Japan from fruitfly-free regions
On May 23, Australia’s Department of Agriculture and Water Resources officially declared export access to Japan for Hass avocados.

The avocados must be grown in specific zones, meet the “hard mature” condition, and be sent from Department of Agriculture accredited packhouses and growers.

The source regions are strictly limited to officially recognised areas free from Queensland fruit fly: Western Australia, Riverland (South Australia) and Tasmania.

The Department of Agriculture confirmed with Asiafruit that there is no cold treatment protocol as part of the access.

In the coming weeks the department will release an official call for applications for accreditation.

 

Source: http://www.fruitnet.com/asiafruit

Author: Camellia Aebischer

Australian import industry squeezed

Government changes to pre-clearance inspections are having harsh effects on Australian importers.

The Overseas Pre-clearance Inspection (OPI) scheme, offered through Australia’s Department of Agriculture and Water Resources (DAWR) since 2001, is about to disappear.

The government department made a decision to eliminate the program in 2016 meaning importers will have to inspect and clear fruit for arrival onshore in Australia.

Previously, Australia appointed inspectors who travel to selected ports overseas to pre-clear produce as it meets phytosanitary approvals. Now, the number of inspectors is being reduced and moved back home.

A spokesperson from the DAWR told Asiafruit that the program is being phased out because on-arrival inspection provides greater opportunities for the DAWR to drive compliance and better allocate resources according to biosecurity risk.

Industry representatives are not convinced.

A member of the Australian Horticultural Exporters and Importers Association (AHEIA) told Asiafruit that wait times for onshore clearance are sitting at around 7 or 8 days, adding an extra week to their pre-order schedule.

“The retailers don’t want to hear ‘I’m sorry but we can’t get an inspection for your program,’” they said.

Industry sources told Asiafruit that Australia’s import sector is not only concerned about their business and relationships, but the flow-on effect for export deals.

“We know that in the past several of our neighbours have used non-phytosanitary issues to restrict fruit imports,” said Neil Barker, CEO at BGP International. “When they see how effective the DAWR protectionist policy has been I have no doubt they will consider adopting the policy. If an Australian grape shipment to Jakarta airport regularly spent seven days in the cargo terminal waiting for an inspection my guess is that the trade would stop.”

Dominic Jenkin, CEO of the AHEIA explained that when inspectors are placed overseas they’re able to approve produce more efficiently as multiple orders might be stationed in a single location at a major port; last year the programme operated across 75,000 tonnes of fresh fruit imports from New Zealand and the US.

The program was offered to a handful of countries, which has dwindled over the years. Currently availability is only for the USA and New Zealand on selected fruit and veg.

The DAWR said that the removal of OPI does not impact on the number of inspectors available to the department.

However, in Australia, inspectors are having to travel much longer distances between warehouses to inspect and approve. Because of the delays, importers are also having to absorb the cost and losses from shortened shelf life and storage fees to hold sealed containers while they wait for a scheduled inspector.

To curb the problem, the DAWR decided to implement a Compliance-Based Inspection (CBI) scheme last year, which was piloted during the New Zealand avocado season.

The CBI scheme means that if a product reaches a certain number of approved inspections (for avocados it’s five in a row), they will then move to a reduced inspection rate (again for avocados, inspections will reduce to one in four shipments).

“The new scheme was intended to reward importers who could achieve a good compliance history with decreased inspection rates and faster entry. To date, no importers have achieved these reduced inspection rates,” New Zealand Avocados told Asiafruit in a statement.

“An overriding reason is the difficulty of accurately identifying often globally distributed organisms (and their eggs), down to a taxonomic level to confirm they are not of quarantine concern,” they said.

The same issue appeared in 2016 when lemons and limes from the US were subject to the trial and saw backlogs of up to ten days.

While experiencing setbacks in gaining approval, a lot of the annoyance over changes stems from the where funding of the inspection program comes from.

“The frustrating thing is that it’s industry funded. So, most of the time the limitation is cost for government processes, but this is definitely not a case of that. The industry has never said ‘we’re not willing to pay for this,’” said the anonymous AHEIA member.

The DAWR sad it’s working closely with industry and trading partners to optimise compliance and minimise any disruption, while facilitating safe trade.

Source: http://www.fruitnet.com/asiafruit

Author: Camellia Aebischer

Australia begins risk analysis for Chilean avocados

Draft report expected to be released for public consultation before the end of this year

Chile’s bid to send fresh avocados to Australia is progressing, with a review of biosecurity import requirements now underway.

The risk analysis is being conducted by the Australian Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, with a draft report expected to be released for public consultation before the end of 2018.

“The application has been with the department for some time, and they have now allocated resources to review it” said John Tyas, chief executive of peak industry body Avocados Australia.

“We need to let the department go through the process. It’s got to be a science-based approach so that any potential risks can be picked up.”

According to a release from the Department of Agriculture and Water Resources, a preliminary assessment of Chilean avocados has found potential pests of quarantine concern (fruit fly, scale insects, mealybug, thrips and mites) are the same, or of the same pest groups, as those associated with other horticultural commodities previously assessed by the department.

“Given that these pests have been assessed previously and for which risk management measures are already established, quarantine pests associated with Chilean avocados will not require different risk management measures to those required for other horticultural commodities,” the release explained.

Should Chile’s application progress and market access open up, the Latin American nation would likely send fruit over the Australian summer, based on the timing of its crop.

Tyas said production had traditionally struggled to keep pace with demand in Australia over January and February, although this doesn’t automatically translate to a window of opportunity.

“We have fruit from New Zealand that helps us fill that gap over these summer months,” Tyas told Asiafruit.

“We’re also seeing a lot of new plantings here in Australia, with one-third of the new trees in the ground yet to reach full maturity. Whether there is a good opportunity for Chilean fruit remains to be seen.”

Cutting carbon footprint shipping industry

Chile & Peru claim avocado trade is threatened by shipping measure

Speed limits at sea could cut shipping’s carbon footprint fast, but fresh fruit exporters are raising concerns. The trade in avocados, cherries and blueberries could suffer from a proposed short-term measure to cut carbon emissions from shipping, according to Chile and Peru.

Both Latin-American nations have signed a declaration saying international shipping must “take urgent action” to limit its climate impact, in line with the Paris Agreement. But ahead of an important UN shipping meet in April, they warned against speed limits at sea, one of the few regulations being considered for implementation before 2023.

Rolando Drago, Chile’s ambassador to London and head of delegation to the International Maritime Organization, stated his country had made ' a political commitment' to discuss climate action in shipping. But Chile would support some measures more than others, he added. “We are really worried regarding the speed of vessels, because that could affect our exports.”

For example, a shipment of cherries from Valparaiso, Chile, to Shanghai, China would take 33 days at 20 knots against 44 days at 15 knots. This could affect quality and distort trade.

In general, ships use less fuel and generate lower emissions when they travel slowly. If oil prices are high, many ship operators choose to slow down to save costs.

A study commissioned from CE Delft found 'slow steaming', as it is known in the industry, could cut emissions in key sub-sectors by up to a third over the period 2018-30.

Climatechangenews.com quoted a Transport & Environment campaigner as saying: “Ships voluntarily slowed down between 2008 and 2012 because of the prevailing market conditions. There is no evidence that this has led Chilean or Peruvian fruit exporters to go bankrupt.”

Source: www.freshplaza.com

Publication date: 3/21/2018

Kiwfruit harvest kicks off after good kiwiberry and avocado seasons

The New Zealand kiwifruit harvest is commencing today at produce company, Seeka. It has just completed its Nashi and Packham pear harvests in Australia and avocado and kiwiberry harvests in New Zealand.

2018 has seen unsettled weather in New Zealand already with ex-tropical cyclone Gita having impacted in New Zealand's South Island and it was feared that the remnants of tropical cyclone Hola may have hit the Te Puke area on Monday, but the storm drifted to the east of the country. MetService said it would bring a short spell of wind, rain and larger swells, with possible severe weather in places. Now there is a new Cyclone Linda brewing in the Coral Sea in New Caledonia.

Michael Franks said that Seeka are ready to go with the new kiwifruit harvest. "We are at the end of a very good kiwiberry harvest, and having completed Seeka’s most successful avocado season ever. In the kiwiberry space around 1605 bins have been processed across Seeka’s new kiwiberry processing plant – a converted cherry grader. The machine has commissioned well, and provided Seeka and its growers with 5 times the capacity to pack. Its delivered a significantly better risk profile for our growers, particularly with the unsettled weather pattern. This is well up on last year’s approximate 1297 bins processed at Seeka. The first kiwifruit are now ready for harvest. The weather during the kiwifruit growing season has been very unsettled with less than ideal amounts of sunshine punctuated with heavy rain. The result is a very large size profile. Dry matters are comparatively low and we are closely monitoring the fruit to get it harvested when the criteria is achieved."

Last year Hayward [green] yields were low with big sizes, this season's yields are expected to be more normal and Seeka are expecting to pack between 29 million and 30 million trays, compared to last year's 25.5 million.

Seeka is currently recruiting for the season but there doesn't seem to be the usual numbers of backpackers registering as in previous years. This is a new phenomenon in New Zealand and in the Hawkes Bay, the apple packers are at crisis levels. "The labour situation is always a bit confused at this time of the year," according to Franks. "People sign up to three or four packhouses in the region and will go to the place that starts packing first, so it is hard to get a handle on the overall situation right now. The numbers seem ok but we are unsure about how it will pan out. Seeka does have innovative programs underway with Government departments to encourage out of region New Zealanders to work at Seeka including subsidised transport and specialist training. We also have our overseas workforces coming in
which we use to complement the local kiwi workers."

Seeka have two packhouses with Near-Infrared technology in the lines which scans fruit to measure dry matter levels. The gold kiwifruit must reach a certain threshold to be classed as Zespri class I fruit for export. The technology tries to segregate the specific sized fruit to ensure that the dry matter levels are sufficient to meet customer's demands. Once packed the fruit is rechecked to ensure it is at the level.

"Its tricky technology to employ, and as the fruit matures and the harvest continues the cameras and technology needs recalibrated. It is time consuming at a time when we are very busy. It is not possible to take the machine down for a whole day for recalibration. The whole process is expensive to the point where its economic benefits are marginal, but we do it because the market and growers expect it of us," said Franks.

"We anticipate a better crop volumes this season, up 4.5million trays on last year. Hayward will be better so we are expecting around 18 million conventional and organic trays and also a lift in the Sungold fruit, but we are conscious that it does have lower dry matter," stated Franks.

Meanwhile at Seeka Australia the financial performance last year was up significantly, mainly due to a very good kiwifruit harvest, but according to Franks, there is still room to improve. The focus in on production to get all varieties performing at their optimum. Last year the Nashi volume was down but they are predicting a bumper crop this year across all varieties. Seeka Australia has experienced unprecedented export demand for its kiwifruit. The orchards, while in a difficult growing environment, produce fruit of excellent taste and quality. The combination of high temperatures, high sunlight hours and strict quality standards has delivered an excellent kiwifruit, according to Franks. Export volumes are expected to surge by 60% with Seeka continuing to market through its dedicated European customers.

Seeka continues to invest; it is developing 60 hectares of new kiwifruit orchards as well as new pear varieties. The company has deployed new high-brix high yielding pears focused on its key Australian customers. These new exciting pears are intended to meet growing market demand and replace commodity pears.

For more information:
Michael Franks
Seeka
Tel: +64 21 356 516
Email: Michael.Franks@seeka.co.nz

Article and Image Source: www.freshplaza.com

 


Publication date: 3/14/2018
Author: Nichola McGregor
Copyright: www.freshplaza.com

Costa boosts first-half profits

“Standout” performance for citrus and tomatoes helps drive 14.5 per cent increase Australian group’s first-half profits
Leading Australian grower-packer-marketer Costa Group has announced a 14.5 per cent increase in first-half net profit to A$28.6m.

The result came on the back of a near 10 per cent increase in revenue in the six months to 31 December, to some A$489.4m.

Chief executive Harry Debney singled out citrus and tomatoes as the star performers among its core categories.

“These results are indicative of a strong 1H FY2018, with our citrus category continuing to make a standout contribution, fuelled by growing export demand across our key markets including Japan, the US and China,” Debney said.

“Tomatoes also made an excellent contribution boosted by the snacking segment’s performance.”

In the H1 results announcement, Costa also reported on a number of key investments to drive its further growth.

The group expanded its shareholding in Morocco-based berry venture African Blue in November, boosting its ownership to 86 per cent, from 49 per cent, in a deal worth A$68.5m.

Avocado acquisitions

Besides berries, avocado expansion is also on the cards, with Costa today announcing a conditional agreement to buy Coastal Avocados in the mid-north coast of New South Wales, a new growing region for the company. Coastal currently produces around 200,000 trays of avocados per year, a figure expanded to grow to 300,000 trays as plantings mature. It also packs a further 300,000 trays for third-party growers.

Costa announced two further avocado acquisitions were completed as of January, including the Gunalda avocado farm in Central Queensland and Burness avocado farm in Far North Queensland.

“As a result of these acquisitions, Costa will, on completion of the Coastal Avocados acquisition, have a production and supply footprint stretching from February through to December,” said Debney. “We are now well under way to executing our strategy to build avocados into our fifth core vertically integrated produce pillar and to ultimately achieve 52-week supply.”

The new avocado acquisitions, together with recent additional plantings, are set to take the company’s total plantings to around 679ha with a presence in four growing areas across three states and packhouse facilities in each region. They bring Costa’s investment in the avocado category, in conjunction with Macquirie Agricultural Funds Management, to A$110m, as the group bids to become “the market leader” in the next three years.

Acquisition activity in Australia was not limited to the avocado categrory, with Costa also completing the purchase of citrus operation Impi Orchards in December. The operation includes 77ha of citrus plantings, with a further 65ha of development land, producing a mix of oranges, mandarins, grapefruit and lemons.

“This now brings Costa’s total citrus plantings to around 2,240ha, which are all located in the Riverland region,” said Debney, who confirmed that Costa “maintained an active interest in M&A opportunities in the citrus industry”.

Elsewhere, Costa reported on the ongoing successful execution of its domestic berry growth programme in Australia, where it has added 95ha of new plantings in 2018.

The group also said its investments in berry operations in China remained on track, despite a challenging summer with wet weather hampering production. The company is planning a 65ha expansion at its new Manhong site for 2019.

Positive outlook

Costa said it now expects full-year net profit to grow by around 25 per cent, up from previous guidance of at least 20 per cent.

Full-year earnings would be more heavily weighted to the second half of the fiscal year, the company said, due to the timing of the avocado harvest and further growth of international operations, including the consolidation of African Blue in December 2017.

The earnings forecast includes a contribution from Costa’s acquisition of African Blue. Costa’s purchase of a further 37 per cent shareholding of the company prompted a revaluation of the 49 per cent stake it already held. A $40.1m non-cash gain on the revaluation increased Costa’s statutory net profit for H1 to A$66.2m.

The company raised its interim dividend of 5 cents per share, fully franked, up 25 per cent on FY17.

Source: http://www.fruitnet.com/asiafruit

Author: John Hey

Peru expects Australian avocado access “in near future”

While negotiations to allow access for Peruvian avocados into Australia haven’t been advancing as quickly as many would like, an industry head is hopeful the green light will be given “in the near future.”

The two countries recently signed a free trade agreement (FTA) that will allow 96% of products from the Andean country to enter Australia tariff-free, the Peruvian government said.

Peruvian Trade Minister Eduardo Ferreyros described the deal as the country’s “the most ambitious bilateral trade agreement”.

In fresh produce he expected it would open up opportunities for table grapes, blueberries and avocados.

The Peruvian government is currently in negotiations with Australia to allow avocado market access, amid expectations for a huge future increase in volumes including a 20-25% year-on-year boost anticipated in 2018.

“There has not been much progress on the phytosanitary protocols for Australia,” ProHass vice president Daniel Bustamante told Fresh Fruit Portal.

“We are on the way, but it takes time, and we don’t know if it will be one, two or three years.”

He added that as Australia was an avocado producer, the phytosanitary barriers Peruvian growers and exporters would have to overcome were “much more exhaustive” than for other countries.

Although Australia has a mature avocado industry, Bustamante noted it imported fruit from New Zealand to help bridge the supply gap. He therefore expected there to be a place in the market for Peruvian avocados too.

According to the representative, the long transit time by sea would pose a major challenge to exporters – especially with current technology and lack of shipping routes. Sea-freighted fruit would likely arrive with maturity problems, he said.

Exports would therefore be made via air-freight, and the representative said the industry would need to optimize costs along the supply chain in order to be competitive in the market and explained the FTA would help in this regard.

However, while tariffs will be reduced under the trade deal, Australian Horticultural Exporters Association (AHEA) CEO Dominic Jenkin said the country’s import duties in general were relatively low, and a more challenging aspect for foreign suppliers would be protocol arrangements.

Australia also recently granted market access for Indonesian mangoes and dragon fruit, ABC Rural reported.

www.freshfruitportal.com

Aussie avo shortage to ease, but what’s in store for the coming years?

It’s been facetiously referred to as the ‘Great Avocado Depression of 2018’, but the current situation may offer a window into a future when Chinese and Indian consumers want their slice of the avo action.

Avocados Australia CEO John Tyas says supplies are always lowest in January and February, but this year the domestic market has been under particular strain due to a much shorter crop from New Zealand and Western Australian volumes falling short of expectations.

“There just hasn’t been enough to meet demand over that period and we’ve seen prices spike over the last few weeks, but as the new season comes in and volumes increase we’d expect that to ease over the next few weeks,” Tyas tells Fresh Fruit Portal.

Part of the gap stems from a unique switchover in Australian production from Hass to greenskin cultivar Shepard and back again.

“There’s a little bit in January and a little bit in May, but February to April is the period for Shepard. For the rest of the year consumers mainly eat Hass so there is an education needed around greenskins and how they don’t color when they ripen,” Tyas says.

While consumers will have varying preferences between the varieties, The Avolution director Antony Allen says there is a “no choice period” after Hass supplies dry up from Western Australia and New Zealand.

“Obviously that no choice period is going to be a bit longer this year. From mid-February it’ll be just six weeks of Shepard,” says Allen, who is a former CEO of Avocados Australia.

“Consumers are used to that in a sense and there’s quite a following for the variety. There are quite a few people who love using Shepard avocados and want them year-long, which isn’t agronomically possible.”

While a percentage of Australians may enjoy the greenskin’s flavor and texture, as well as the fact it doesn’t oxidize to the same extent as Hass after cutting, its climatic demands for production mean it can only be a short deal domestically.

“It is very much a tropical variety so it is limited to the tropics and sub-tropics, and that limits its production as well,” says Tyas.

We ask the executive whether that means more production could take place in the Northern Territory for an earlier season, similarly to what happens in the Australian mango industry.

“There is a grower who is trialing a range of varieties in the Northern Territory. It’s very small scale at the moment but that’ll give some indication of what the opportunities might be,” Tyas says.

“We have seen growers moving further north of the [Atherton] Tablelands. We’ll see how these trials pan out.”

Widening the Hass window

Like most avocado industries in the world, Australia’s varietal focus is predominantly around extending the production window for Hass.

“Fortunately in Australia we’ve got a very wide range of climates that allows us to produce avocados all year round, but we do struggle to produce significant quantities of Hass year-round,” says Tyas.

“No one in Western Australia wants to hang fruit on the tree longer than they have to because that impacts their next crop,” adds Allen.

“They want to have their fruit harvested as soon as possible in terms of their systems to allow their trees time to rest and have the ability to lay down the next crop,” he says.

Allen says with current production it doesn’t make sense to try to close that gap, and there’s no technology on the market yet that would allow for fruit to be stored for longer. And that wouldn’t fit with the sector’s quality and freshness proposition either.

But volumes will rise – that much is certain. Tyas says Australia currently produces around 65,000 metric tons (MT) of avocados per year and estimates are that the figure will exceed 100,000MT by 2025.

“I think we’ll probably get there before 2025,” he says.

“About a third of orchards are yet to come into maturity so there’s a lot of production in the pipeline, so we’re going to see that really start to ramp up over the next few years.

“We’re seeing the first of it this year with the North Queensland harvest expected to be significantly higher with some of these new plantings coming online,” he says, adding there has been significant expansion in Western Australia too.

“Over time I think we’ll see the supply of Hass even more consistent across the year.”

Accounting for demand in Asia

When asked when supply might be able to catch up with booming demand, Allen says his view has changed over the past year.

“If you’d asked me this question 12 months ago I’d have stuck to my five year modeling. You know what’s in the ground and say for the next five years it’s fine and there’s plenty of room for growth,” he says.

“Now after I’ve seen India and China and understand where they’re at and have a better concept of their pricing and work on the numbers worldwide, I’m going to stick my neck out and say there’s a good 25 years left, minimum.

“What you’ve got are two major growing economies – and that’s not even including Europe which is probably halfway through its avocado market development – with avocado consumption back at what Australia was back in the late 80s, early 90s.”

Click here for some of Avocados Australia’s suggestions for ways to use the fruit in a variety of Asian cuisines.

He highlights it took a good two decades for the Californian avocado industry to establish the fruit in the Japanese market and cuisine.

“You’re not looking for 1.2 billion people as consumers in both countries. You’re just looking at 150-200 million people. That’d be plenty – there wouldn’t be enough avocados currently produce to supply that,” Allen says.

“In the general sense worldwide that will have a direct impact on the Australian market as well. It’s got a fair way to run yet.”

But what happens then with Australian consumers? Will they be able to give avocados the same place in their budgets as they do today?

“It’s about the value proposition,” replies Allen.

“People will pay AUD$4-5 (US$3.22-4.03) for a flat white so an avocado being in a four-dollar market might seem expensive at this point of time, but in terms of what to spend your money on you’re going to get a lot more health benefits and a lot more enjoyment out of avocados.”

But if avocados were to indeed stay at that level, could there be a place for imports from further afield?

“Anybody else apart from New Zealand that’s going to be able to export is a long way away from our market, and that just challenges the quality outturn from an Australian consumer perspective,” he says.

“That’s the catch with avocados. All of the producing countries are going to send where they can get the best price with the least risk for quality outturn, because it’s the country that’s supplying that’s going to take that risk.”

Tyas is also skeptical about the prospect.

“There may be some opportunities but the other thing too is we’re a relatively small market here compared with other parts of the world, so there might be some niche opportunities here but it probably wouldn’t take much for some of those big suppliers to flood the market and diminish those returns fairly quickly,” he says.

Developing export protocols

Tyas says the Australian avocado industry currently only exports to non-protocol markets; those countries that don’t require any kind of phytosanitary treatment of the product.

“At the moment our main exports are Singapore and Malaysia and because we’ve got such strong domestic demand we don’t send a lot offshore,” he says.

“But we’re doing quite a lot of work in export development to make sure we’re geared up when these increased plantings come to fruition.

“We’re keen to get access into Japan and we’d like to get back into Thailand. Obviously China is a market we’d love to have access to as well.”

He says the desired protocols would recognize that as is the case with Mediterranean fruit fly (Medfly), avocados are not a host for Queensland fruit fly either.

“We’re very confident that we’ll be able to achieve that – there’s been some research completed recently into Queensland fruit fly which obviously other countries around the world don’t have, and that shows the conditional non-host protocol works very effectively for Queensland fruit fly,” Tyas says.

The Queensland fruit fly is absent from Western Australia though, so growers in that state could make the most of research already recognized by the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) that their pest of concern – the Medfly – doesn’t travel with avocados.

“We’ve got Mediterranean fruit fly in Western Australia so probably we can use a lot of that data that’s been generated previously so access from WA to some of these markets is progressing quite well,” he says.

“Then hopefully the rest of the country will get access once this research is published and those negotiations can happen.”

www.freshfruitportal.com

 

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