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With global avocado consumption on the rise, New Zealand which is looking at a bumper harvest this year is seeking new opportunities with the fruit as an important export product, according to FreshFruitPortal.com.

The New Zealand Avocado Industry Council expects a record export crop of 3.4 million trays this season.

Council chairperson Jen Scoular was quoted saying the increased avocado quantities are complemented by a fruit that is physically larger than in other countries.

“We will have larger fruit than both the Australians and Mexicans,” she says.

Seeka general manager of grower relations and corporate marketing Peter Mourits, says his company will pack five times the amount of fruit they did last year.

Team Avocado export director Alistair Young has seen a similar trend.

“Maturity levels have been late in the Bay of Plenty which has caused a staggered, slower season than what we would have liked. But we’re now clear of that and we have been at full throttle for weeks,” he says.

While 90% of last year’s avocado exports went to Australia, Scoular says there is growing awareness of other markets.

“There’s been recognition of that. We had an estimate in June, we’re working closely with the 11 exporters to look at other markets that have been developed, but we’ve always been short on supply.

She hopes to get 25% of volumes going to countries other than Australia, while there are programs underway to ship avocadoes to the US, Japan and other parts of Asia.

For Young it is an ‘absolute requirement’ to export to other markets.

“Australia will always be a strong part of our market but and we need to diversify so that we don’t over supply that market.”

Mourits adds that while Seeka supplies one of Australia’s key retailers, the company now has a distributor in Japan.

“We’re send reasonable amounts up to Japan. (Asian markets) are increasingly important now, although they’ve historically sought their fruit from Mexico and South America.”

A recent grower survey showed 22% of New Zealand avocado growers also have kiwifruit.

Scoular says the potential for this season’s crop is a real asset in light of what the kiwifruit industry are going through.

“The potential for avocados is very positive and they can grow on land affected by Psa (disease). Provided we get decent returns from this year’s crop it is positive in a season where kiwifruit are severely affected.”

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