Avocado export supply group AVOCO welcomes last week's announcement that New Zealand market access to China has been granted for the 2018-19 export season.
The company exports New Zealand avocados to various Asian markets under its AVANZA brand and it has been preparing for access to China for some time. Preliminary planning has included the development of a market-specific brand name designed to be the exemplar brand from New Zealand for China.
Anticipating access would be granted for 2018-19, last month the AVANZA market management team drafted an initial market plan for China involving target volumes, size profile and supply phasing. China, like India and South Korea, will be developed with the view to it becoming a market for premium quality, larger-size fruit.
A pre-season market visit is scheduled for April to finalise importer-distributor arrangements and identify optimum sales channels to be pursued, looking at a mix of both "off-line" retail store format sales and "on-line" opportunities. New Zealand's scale and seasonality relative to the South American supply nations will be a key consideration in customer selection.
New Zealand will compete for shelf space in China with fruit from Mexico, Peru and Chile — the only other countries currently benefiting from market access.
AVOCO's marketing and communications manager, Steve Trickett, says the unique climate and extending growing season New Zealand avocados are produced in will help to differentiate AVANZA fruit in the produce aisle. This will be supported by point-of-sale consumer education material covering nutritional attributes, handling and recipe ideas.
Research has proven that avocados grown in New Zealand have 20 per cent more folate and twice as much vitamin B6 than avocados grown elsewhere.
"Being the closest and therefore freshest southern hemisphere source of avocados to China, the subtle differences in the taste and texture profile of our fruit, as well as presenting consumers with a larger piece of fruit backed by promotional investment, will help underpin our brand story, all aimed to secure a premium place in the market," says Mr Trickett.
Market access to China follows a successful technical audit of the regulatory system for exporting this week. MPI and China's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) signed the protocol to agree export requirements in November 2017.
Demand for New Zealand avocados has steadily grown in key Asian markets due to efforts led by AVANZA to educate consumers on the health and versatility benefits of the fruit.
As Asian economies continue to develop and an increasing number of wealthier consumers emerge, diets become more varied and demand for high quality nutritious international food grows. We project that growth in demand for avocados is only set to increase, says Mr Trickett.
"In operating AVANZA, AVOCO has built relationships in many exciting Asian markets and it's fantastic that we can now add China to that list."