A return to more affordable avocados has been forecast for next season after avocados hit a record end-of-season price of $4 per fruit in some Tauranga supermarkets.

The 2017-18 season was influenced by avocado trees producing very poor crops in many Bay orchards, with Te Puke grower Ron Bailey saying his production fell to 50 tonnes - 250 tonnes less than his bumper crop the previous year.

''That was typical of a lot of growers.''

Bailey said the cyclic seasonal variations in crop volumes was unfortunately what avocado trees did.


Read more: Why South Korea has embraced the avocado

However, things were looking much better for the harvest due to commence in August, with national production forecasts of up to 3.5 million trays for the season - 1.3 million trays more than this season.

''Volumes are looking good.''

Bailey, a former Avocado Growers Association chairman, said New Zealand consumers would get cheaper fruit because of the bigger crop.

''In the flush of the season, avocados will be realistically priced again.''

Alistair Young, the marketing director of the industry's leading export supply group, AVOCO, said the industry was better off when a strong crop produced moderate returns because the returns per hectare were much higher.

Although the low supply of fruit this season had produced higher prices, the industry was still a long way down in value.

''Quite a few growers had very small crops, and they missed out on the very high returns.''

Trevelyan's avocado manager Daniel Birnie said Bay avocado growers were in the strongest position the industry had ever seen, with record end-of-season prices for fruit and the opening up of China to exporters for the 2018-19 season.

He said Trevelyan's new avocado nursery in No. 1 Rd was going well, with a two-year waiting list for trees.

''That's another sign of the strength of our industry at the moment.''

He said Trevelyan's had just finished packing the 2017 season's crop. The 170,000 trays exported and 130,000 trays for the local market represented about 10 per cent of the industry's volume.

Low crop volumes and high consumer demand resulted in record prices of up to $4 per fruit this season, he said.

''The returns have been the best we've ever seen in the industry, and consumer demand is going through the roof.''

Birnie said the trend that people were prepared to pay more for avocados boded well for growers and the industry.

Young said the industry's future looked very positive, with New Zealand unable to satisfy the demand from Australia and Asia for a number of previous seasons.

''Australia is pre-ordering fruit for the coming season. The industry is in a really good position... we can't supply enough fruit or enough trees.''

''China will exacerbate the problem - it's a good problem to have.''

Bailey said the higher prices from this season's poor crop yield came nowhere near compensating growers.

Looking at the causes of the cyclic cropping of avocado trees, he said pruning was looked at as being part of the solution, but plenty of growers who pruned did not have good crops this season.

''They are scratching their heads.''

He said avocado trees had been taken out of Mexican rainforests and grown in New Zealand orchards. Genetically, it was a very ancient tree, and its roots were not very efficient.

''We are dealing with a difficult crop. We have been growing them for 40 years, and maybe we will need another 40 years to understand them.''

Trevelyan's avocado tree nursery
- Established August 2016
- Raises around 3500 trees from seed each year
- Main source of employment for four staff