Avocados- An Evolving Industry


For a small country, we certainly punch well above our weight when it comes to avocados.

New Zealand is the world’s ninth largest avocado exporter, contributing 2% of global avocado production and is the third largest fresh fruit export from New Zealand, following kiwifruit and apples.

Despite New Zealand’s often wet, cold and windy conditions, avocados are a growing industry here. Over the past ten years industry value has increased significantly, from $60M in 2011 to $234M in 2021, hoping to reach an ambitious $1B
by 2040.
More than 70% of New Zealand’s export avocados are shipped to Australia and the remainder to eleven Asian markets. The industry objective since 2014 has been to reduce our dependence on the Australian market and increase
volumes into Asia. Over 1.5M trays were shipped to Asia during the past financial year, three times higher than the previous year.

Avocados are increasingly popular in our own backyard. Last year, the New Zealand market absorbed more than three million trays, that’s 70 million delicious, healthy, home grown avocados.
This volume is anticipated to increase over the next few years and is supported by strong investment in the category.

Orchards were once traditionally planted with 7m x 7m spacings. New orchards are being closely planted, 3m x 3m or 3m x 5m. This results in more trees per hectare, from 100 to 500. Yields from avocados average 11 tonnes a hectare, with our top
performers achieving over 50 tonnes a hectare. Over 40,000 tonnes of avocados are grown each year. These are sourced from 1,600 growers nationwide (primarily in the Bay of Plenty and Northland) across nearly 5,200 hectares of
avocado trees. Around 1,000 hectares have been planted in the past one to five years, so are not yet producing to full capacity (which is normally six to seven years).

Around 70% of New Zealand’s avocado growers have orchards that are less than four hectares in size. While these orchards are at the smaller end of the scale, these growers contribute more than 40% of the volume packed. Smaller orchards make up the lion’s share of the avocado industry
with the majority of orchards still family owned and operated but not necessarily the sole source of income. New ownership models are emerging, including vertically integrated grower, packer exporter, some large syndicates and
groups of orchards being managed together.

That diversity continues across the supply chain, including vertically integrated models, growers belonging to large trusts and groupings of packhouses associated with one exporter.
Exporters are equally diverse, from our largest with 60% of market volume, one with 20%, another with 10% and eight smaller exporters with 10% of overall supply.

In April 2023, New Zealand has the unique opportunity to host the World Avocado Congress for the first time ever. The congress provides the opportunity to showcase New Zealand avocados on a world stage, including our systems,
growing practice and sustainability. It will also provide access to innovation, global knowledge and science to support the continuing growth of the sector. 

Article supplied by New Zealand Avocado