Avocado Growers Running at a Loss

First published on RNZ.

Avocado growers are having a tough run this season, with large volumes of fruit coupled with weaker than usual demand pushing down returns.

The industry group New Zealand Avocado said less product was being exported to Australia because of an oversupply of locally grown avocados, while in New Zealand, COVID-19 lockdown restrictions had dented sales to restaurants and cafes.

Bay of Plenty grower Hugh Moore described the situation as a "perfect storm." Another challenge for exporters was COVID-19 related freight delays and high shipping costs, which made reaching markets in Asia harder than usual, he said.

Returns for growers were about a third of what they were this time last year, Moore said, and about 20 percent of the way through the harvest it had slowed down because of the market conditions and shipping issues.

"The wholesale market is flooded... everyone's going to run at a loss this year."

New Zealand Avocado chief executive Jen Scoular said this would be one of the toughest seasons the industry had had in the last decade.

"On the positive side, we've got a good crop, we've got a good volume... but we're faced with those global disruptions.

"The New Zealand market is also very impacted. We oversupplied the New Zealand market early on and that meant that values took a tumble."

Scoular said New Zealand Avocado's market research showed about 30 percent of New Zealanders didn't buy avocados but she hoped the lower prices on offer this season would help entice them.

"We're certainly working on increasing the demand for avocados in the New Zealand market this season."