Avocado exporters are predicting that 2014-15 will be New Zealand's biggest export season. But increased competition from Australia means more effort will have to go into developing markets in Asia and further afield, says Alistair Young, a director of AVOCO.
AVOCO was formed in 2013 by New Zealand's two biggest avocado exporters - Bay of Plenty-based Southern Produce and Auckland-based Primor Produce - after years of rivalry.
But while the joint entity's inaugural season was a success, with more than 1.9 million trays exported, next season would be the true test, with more than 5 million trays available for export, said Mr Young.
"The challenges of a massive crop and a more competitive Australian market because of the bumper crop it too is expecting in 2014-15, will mean AVOCO can really show what it's made of."
Australia took the majority of AVOCO's export crop last year, when the combination of low Australian crop volumes and high consumer demand saw New Zealand growers enjoy high orchard gate returns.
However, Australia was also expecting an above average crop, which would mean more competition to sell avocados across the Tasman, as well as from Australian exporters in other markets.
AVOCO said that, rather than relying solely on Australia, it had been developing and expanding its other export relationships - particularly in Asia. The two AVOCO partners have also worked together for over a decade as the biggest components of the AVANZA export entity, which was set up to foster new market development .
"We have been working hard to achieve recognition of New Zealand as a preferred avocado supplier into Asia and have sought to secure AVANZA's place as the only real commercial choice from New Zealand," said AVOCO director John Carroll.
Last year AVOCO personnel travelled to Asia to meet with New Zealand Trade and Enterprise staff and offer intensive training to importers and retailers in Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Korea and Japan.
"Some time ago we identified the importance of establishing and developing the best possible relationships with these markets, and this was underlined particularly in this past season, when many other New Zealand exporters simply focused on Australia," said Mr Carroll.
The next few months before the beginning of the export season would be critical for AVOCO and AVANZA's performance, which also planned to target new markets in the Middle East, India and Taiwan.
AVANZA was also planning to supply fruit into the United States in the coming year through long-term partner Mission Produce, the California-based avocado marketing company.
"We're focused on next season and the next few months of planning and preparation are going to be crucial," said Mr Young.