Australian avocado growers have accused Woolworths of taking fruit from New Zealand over domestic suppliers, saying consumers could be left with a glut of poor quality produce.

"Australian growers are very disappointed Woolworths has stopped sourcing locally-grown avocados for most of its Queensland stores already, given the large volumes of Australian fruit that are currently available," said John Tyas, CEO of industry body Avocados Australia.

Tyas said Australian growers are expecting to harvest more than 17,000 tonnes of avocados - about 85 million avocados - between September and Christmas.

'This volume is down a bit from last year, but should be sufficient to supply more than half of the Australian market demand during this period,' he said.

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Local supply is usually boosted by imports from New Zealand during the spring and summer months, but Avocados Australia say Woolworths have jumped the gun.

An oversupply of avocados could lead to lower prices for consumers, but Tyas told Radio New Zealand there was also a risk to the market.

Photo / 123rf.com
Photo / 123rf.com

"There's lots of regions that are currently harvesting, the risk is if we put New Zealand fruit on top of that right now then there is a risk that we'll have a market glut, which isn't good for anyone," he said.

"It's not good for consumers, we end up with old fruit sitting around, we start to have a lot of quality problems and that further erodes the market as well."

A Woolworths spokesman defended the sale of imported avocados, saying feedback from suppliers was that avocados of high quality are down this season.

"In response to the market we sometimes take additional fruit from New Zealand to complement our Australian supply - this is the case in Queensland at the moment," the spokesman said, adding customer demand was up.

Woolworths is still sourcing avocados from local growers at its Townsville distribution centre and all other states are unaffected.

Australian consumption of avocados has been steadily increasing over the past two decades and per capita consumption is at about 3.2 kg per person.

Tyas said it was important major chains consult with their suppliers and Avocados Australia to ensure their decisions are based on the best information available.