AUS | Avocado Prices Drop Due to Oversupply

The extraordinary growth in avocado production has now clashed with increased competition as trays of New Zealand and Western Australian Hass avocados undermine local fruit at the supermarket. As a result, NSW current harvests are being sold under the cost of production, about $1 per kilogram - prices not seen since 2004. With zero market for second-grade fruit, all excess product is being buried at packing houses.

Last year, the price for avocados was four to five times what it is now, with Covid restaurant trade responsible for some of that.

Historically, high prices in Australia lured in foreign imports, but now the situation is worrying for growers who know that half of all trees in the ground have yet to produce.

Queensland Country Life reported that as a result, poor prices, especially during seasons with surplus produce, are likely to persist, putting pressure on other varieties.

Only recently have avocados been advertised for as little as $1 each. Whilst a bonus for avocado loving consumers, it's not so great for the growers. Russell Delroy is one such grower feeling the pinch. Delroy has been growing avocados in Western's Australia's South West since the late 80s.

Over the years and thanks to dishes like smashed avo, lots of other growers planted avocado trees as well. Now, there is an oversupply.

Delroy had spent the last two years trying to manage the surplus, but with the lack of labour due to Covid restrictions, getting workers has proven difficult.

To complete this year's harvest, Delroy paid to bring in 70 workers from the Pacific Islands under the Commonwealth's Seasonal worker Programme. For Delroy, it cost $400,000. This included $175,000 for hotel quarantine, $105,000 for flights and $120,000 to pay a new staff member to manage the workers. That is all excluding the worker's wages and superannuation.

At $1 an avocado Delroy said he's losing money, at $1.50 he's breaking even, and only at $2 would he make reasonable profits.