Following an audit in January by Chinese officials, the Katikati-based specialist avocado service provider, Just Avocados Ltd, was given the green light to explore the new market.
Just Avocados GM operations and grower services, Jarrod Redwood, says the auditing was a challenging process and he is proud of the team’s success.
“We had the professionalism and capability to take on this challenge and the team demonstrated that with the immense amount of time and energy they put into ensuring every detail of the pack house and our systems met the China specifications.”
Jarrod says although the rigours of the audit have been accomplished, the effort must continue.
“It’s a big tick having our packing and exporting signed off for China but this is just the beginning. We also need to ensure our growers are up to speed with compliance changes for this market, something our grower services team will continue to work on in the lead up to the new season.”
An industry trial shipment was sent to China in February. Just Avocados will begin shipping commercial volumes in the coming season - August/September 2018 - and will be represented in the market by parent company Darling Group.
Darling Group GM Sales and Marketing, Jacob Darling, says there is work to be done in the market but following their successful citrus programme into Shanghai last year, is aware of what is required to establish the category.
“Learnings from our 2017 citrus programme will be used to optimise our New Zealand avocado programme in the coming season.
“Adding avocado to our established fresh produce export programme to China is a great benefit for us and our growers. Our partners in China are excited about the fruit from New Zealand,” says Jacob.
Demand in China for avocados continues to grow with 20,000 tonnes imported in 2017 versus 31 tonnes in 2011.
“Just Avocados is the third largest exporter of New Zealand avocados and represents 20 per cent of the industry, however we will be very focussed on the market channels that we service,” says Darling.
With the success of the recent New Zealand avocado industry trial shipment to China behind them, Just Avocados and Darling Group are now focussed on working with their in-market partners to understand the best way to position New Zealand avocados with consumers.
Jacob says that establishing a point of difference and a premium for New Zealand avocados in the China market is a priority for Darling Group.
“We have a number of great stories to tell about New Zealand avocados, the unique health benefits being the strongest to leverage in this market.”