Yes, you read that headline correctly. The death of King Bhumjbol Adulyadej has seen a dip in avocado exports to Thailand as that country's consumers go into official mourning for 30 days, with entertainment and major tourist events banned.

The slow down in hospitality trade and festivities has slowed export activity to the Southeast Asia country, but South Korea has developed a sudden taste for smashed avo which is keeping the industry humming.

"Sales have definitely changed and we are keeping a close eye on what impact this event will continue to have on avocado export volumes to Thailand," says Carwyn Williams, the Thailand manager for marketing assocations AVOCO and AVANZA.

"Correspondence has been difficult as business takes a back seat for Thai people during this time. This illustrates the importance of having a diverse range of export markets and the silver lining for us is that we can direct more fruit to our strong performing Korean market."


Exports of avocado to South Korea from New Zealand have increased threefold on the previous year with 209,000 trays planned for shipment this season, contributing $6 million to the total industry.

Koreans have been turning to healthy superfoods in keeping with world trends, and imports of the mighty fruit to the Asian nation from worldwide suppliers are up 83 per cent in just 12 months.

AVANZA market manager for Korea, Martin Napper, says retailers and wholesale buyers can't get enough.

"Korea has been a rapidly growing market for avocados. Two years ago, New Zealand shipped close to 72,000 trays to Korea - anymore and the market could tip over very quickly. But this year, we've received unprecedented interest. Avocados have just hit a nerve," he said.

The delicious green fruit will retail for a whopping NZD$4 per piece, but Napper is confident Korean consumers will be on board.

"There's recognition that healthy food items command a premium price and consumers are prepared to pay that," he says.