A surge in avocado sales is being linked to celebrity chefs' use of the creamy fruit and more people discovering the health benefits.

But high demand has seen prices jump compared to the same time last year.

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

And it seems the use of avocados by television chefs and celebrities is a key reason for the bumper sales.


NZ Avocado spokeswoman Midge Munro said the public were also 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.

"As we educate people and more celebrity chefs use them on TV, people are understanding how to use them and they're understanding the amazing health benefits, so more people are wanting them."

Celebrity chefs Jamie Oliver, Nigella Lawson and Nadia Lim have all boasted about the fruit and used them in recipes ranging from cakes and smoothies to dips.

Lawson recently came under fire for an avocado-on-toast recipe that viewers later slammed as too basic.

Millie Elder-Holmes, creator of Clean Eatz NZ, also regularly shares hand-sized avocados on her social media sites and proclaims the fruit's healthy qualities to her thousands of followers.

High demand for the fruit has 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 cents a fruit.

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

The Daily Mail newspaper said that price range was not expected to change until about April.

Ms Munro said supply and demand were the drivers behind the sometimes-high prices seen here.

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

Grower Graham Morcom, who owns Avocado To You based in Whitianga, said high demand had resulted in the company running out of fruit early.

"The demand is really growing. Most people in the avocado industry, we grow for export. But we sell our own fruit as well and we're just running out now.

"The earliest we've run out [in previous years] is mid-March."

Mr Morcom said people now regarded avocados as a "superfood" that they regularly liked to incorporate into salads and drinks.