Asia Fruit success for avocados & Taste Australia

This article appears in the Spring 2017 edition of Talking Avocados (Volume 28 No 3).

Asia Fruit success for avocados & Taste Australia

Maintaining the value of avocados is the key message for avocado grower Andrew Serra, after attending Asia Fruit Logistica as part of the Hort Innovation Taste Australia campaign.
Mr Serra joined Avocados Australia CEO John Tyas in Hong Kong for the giant trade show.
“The Taste Australia stand really stood out among the 43 exhibiting nations, strongly branding Australian horticultural produce,” Mr Tyas said.
Mr Serra said there was clearly strong demand for Australian avocados, especially in Hong Kong, for both fresh sales and use in the food service sector.
“However, what we need to work toward as an industry is maintaining value in the category,” he said.
“For example, we also grow bananas and while consumption and supply of bananas has increased in recent years by around seven percent, the value has correspondingly decreased by seven percent.” And that’s where export markets could play a key role for avocados, he says. “In five to 10 years, I predict that the smaller fruit is where the interest will be for export, in the premium and first grade categories,” Mr Serra said. “If we are directing the smaller size premium grades overseas, this would also mean more consistent sizing going into domestic markets. That said, we have to keep the eating quality of the fruit high, both domestically and for export markets.”
Speaking to Hort Innovation, Deputy Consul-General and Senior Trade Commissioner for the region, Sam Guthrie said a growing middle class in Asia was demanding quality produce that’s also safe.
“One of the key points about this though, is that it’s an extremely competitive market so whilst there’s a lot of opportunity in Asia, this is a market we have to fight for,” Mr Guthrie said.
“There is so much competition here (in Hong Kong). It’s a wonderful free market, it’s a free protocol market but that means everyone is here and selling their product, be it in the wholesale market or elsewhere.
“It’s really about putting investment and time and commitment into a market in order to seal that opportunity by telling your story effectively.”
Mr Serra said with a goal of Australia producing 100,000 tonnes a year by 2025, having accessible export markets would be important.
“It is forecast that the growing supply of Australian avocados will gradually catch up with the growing domestic demand and provide excess fruit for export,” he said.
Positively, Mr Serra said when he was questioned about Australian avocados during both Asia Fruit Logistica and the market tours surrounding the event, the first point of interest was quality, the second consistent supply of that quality fruit and the third price.
“It also seems to me that there’s a struggle to get good quality avocados on a regular basis in the Hong Kong market,” Mr Serra said.
“The demand is there, the question is whether we can compete on the international market with the strong Australian domestic avocado prices.”
Serra Farming is based at Tolga in North Queensland. The company has been growing avocados for six years and currently has about 8,500 trees, mainly Hass with some Shepard.

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Date Published: 30/10/2017