Sandra is a senior crimes and justice reporter for the Bay of Plenty Times.

Low-yield harvest raises avo prices

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Choice Food and Spices manager Michael Sami with some of his precious fruit. Photo / Andrew Warner
Choice Food and Spices manager Michael Sami with some of his precious fruit. Photo / Andrew Warner

A shortage of avocados combined with increasing demand for the fruit has seen prices soar this season.

A smaller crop nationwide this year meant they were selling faster in some areas despite the increased price.

Southern Product Limited director Alistair Young said overall supply volumes were down considerably by 40 per cent on last season.

"The total crop last year was 7.1 million trays ... This year we are looking at 2.5 million export and 3.8 million trays overall," he said.

Mr Young said a cold spring at flower time and heavy crop the year before caused some orchards to have a smaller crop this season.

Demand both in New Zealand and export markets was increasing and in small crop years supply could be tight due to high demand, he said.

Mr Young said there were several new orchard developments going on in the north of New Zealand to help keep up with demand.

"Simple supply and demand, plus lower volumes created higher market values and higher export quality pack outs, means less fruit available for the domestic market," he said.

Cameron Rd Choice Food and Spices manager Michael Sami said there was definitely a shortage because of the high export demand, wet weather and less crops for the domestic market.

Mr Sami said his store sourced its avocados from Turners and Growers.

Despite the prices in supermarkets they did their best to keep their prices down, and yesterday had a three for $5 special. Individually they were $1.99 each, he said.

"We sell about 500 to 600 a week."

Radica Prakash, who has owned the store for five years, said she could remember a time when you could buy an avocado for .50 each or even less but demand had grown and so had prices.

Figures released by New Zealand Avocado - the growers' association and industry council - showed 90,000 more Kiwi households were buying the fruit, compared to previous seasons.

New Zealand Avocado spokeswoman Midge Munro said the public were becoming more aware of the health benefits of avocados, with their healthier fats.

There was also a smaller crop nationwide this year which meant they were selling out faster in some places.

"I wouldn't say there's a shortage," Ms Munro said. "It's just more that people are discovering avocados."

High demand had seen prices in supermarkets fluctuate throughout the season - from $2.99 or slightly higher per fruit.

In previous years, a large crop nationwide led to prices dropping to as low as .50 a fruit.

In Australia, prices for an avocado had shot up to A$7 ($7.50) in some areas, as poor weather and bush fires resulted in a very low crop this season.

Ms Munro said: "The more demand there is for something, there's a scarcity sort of thing happening. It's just market forces."


* An avocado is a fruit, more specifically a berry

* An avocado has more potassium than a banana

* You can use them as a butter replacement in baked goods recipes

- Bay of Plenty Times

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