Eleven representatives from China Entry & Exit Inspection and Quarantine Association (CIQA) and from China's primary sector visited Tauranga last week to learn more about the New Zealand avocado and kiwifruit industries and also Pipfruit in the Waikato.
NZ Avocado welcomed the delegation and led the two-day visit in collaboration with the Ministry for Primary Industries (MPI), Zespri and Pipfruit New Zealand.
"China as a market is very important to New Zealand avocados as we increase productivity and volumes," said NZ Avocado chief executive Jen Scoular.
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"We do not yet have phytosanitary access to China, but wish to understand the market and build relationships for the future."
Ms Scoular said that avocados were now at the top of the MPI negotiating list for access to China. "We are just working through the process and looking at what our strategy needs to be when we do get access."
Avocado is typically a crop that bears more in alternate years and the past season saw demand pushing prices to whatis expected to be a record high when final results are reported next month.
Ms Scoular said she expected volumes to double in the coming season, from 2.5 million trays to 5 million trays. She said she was confident New Zealand could produce enough to meet market demand once it gained access to China. Currently the key export market for New Zealand avocados is Australia.
We do not yet have phytosanitary access to China, but wish to understand the market and build relationships for the future.
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The tour began with a visit to John and Cindy Cotterell's avocado orchard in Katikati where the delegation inspected fruit and observed the use of a mobile elevating platform used to pick avocados.
CIQA later heard presentations from NZ Avocado, Zespri, Pipfruit NZ and MPI and travelled to Plant & Food Research in Te Puke .
"From our perspective, this is an excellent opportunity to network with officials and commercial people from China, to learn about their business and to share information about our businesses and industries," said Ms Scoular.
"It is very positive to be able to offer the delegation a cross-industry perspective, and to share the tour across the three industries in the Bay of Plenty. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to make connections with Chinese people and present our horticulture industry to them."
Pipfruit NZ chief executive Alan Pollard, who took part in the visit, said the three industries were very similar in being export-facing, with a shared desire to deliver top quality fruit to the market.
Mr Pollard stressed the three groups had a common vision.
"We're all strongly committed to building a lasting relationship in China and we are similarly committed to delivering to the Chinese consumer the highest quality, tastiest fruit. I noticed from the whole delegation [that they were] really keen to learn more and work closer with us."
* General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) - ministerial level organisation.
* China Entry & Exit Inspection and Quarantine Association (CIQA) - national association representing import, export and quarantine associations. It is an administrative body of AQSIQ that ensures collaboration between government and commercial/industry members.