Smaller harvest leaves avocado eaters paying more

By Jenee Tibshraeny, APN

The likelihood of paying two or three dollars for a disappointingly stringy avocado is proving to be higher than usual this summer.

The New Zealand Avocado Growers' Association confirmed this season's avocado harvest had been half as large as last season's - the crop producing only 3 million trays this year.

Avocado crops fluctuate from year to year, so the 2012/2013 crop is suffering from last year's being the biggest ever.

New Zealand Avocado Growers' Association chief executive Jen Scoular said: "This year there's a shortage of supply and an increased demand for avocados, which in a market economy means the price goes up."

Zaggers Cafe chef Marcio Pires felt the effects of the shortage. "Lots of avocados haven't been that good this summer. The quality has got a little bit worse than it used to be ... We have a lot more wastage."

Cafe Bravo chef, Nicky Simpson, said the cafe owners had relied on avocado suppliers they had established a relationship with over the last 20 years.

"The quality has been the same, but the price slightly higher."

She said Cafe Bravo hadn't reduced the number of avocados it used in different dishes.

According to Statistics New Zealand's Food Price Index, avocado prices rose 86 per cent between January 2012 and the same month this year, contributing to a 5.9 per cent overall price increase for fruit and vegetables during that period.

Asked whether consumers could expect cheaper avocados next summer, Ms Scoular said the association's strategy was to position the fruit as a high value product, rather than a commodity.

"We would like to see the return to the grower maintained, which means we do suggest that the retail pricing might hold next year similar to where it is now."

Ms Scoular said 60 per cent of New Zealand's avocado crop, grown largely in the Bay of Plenty, was now exported.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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