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Avocado Exports To United States Booming

A Tauranga-based avocado grower and exporter group is poised to deliver another season of high production with nearly two-thirds of the crop destined for the United States.

In 1999/2000, just over 60 per cent of the group's avocados were exported to the United States, up from a mere 12 per cent in the previous season.

The chairman of the Independent Avocado Growers and Exporters Group, Jeremy Olphert, says the "quantum leap" in 1999/2000 reflects the competitive edge the group is developing in the United States. This is the result of redefining the group's focus, which recognises the future for export growth is in that "hugely potential" market.

"As a grower-led co-operative we realised that we could no longer rely on our traditional market in Australia. We had to lift our game plan and implement some key changes." Mr Olphert says.

"Our successes in the past year are due to changes made as a result of significant research and development work. One of the catalysts to implementing changes and achieving optimum results was assistance from Technology New Zealand - part of the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology."

Technology New Zealand funding enabled the group to put in place the correct structure for a five-year research programme. It also helped to impose on all participating growers a set of disciplines to monitor their comparative performances.

"We have also benefited from interaction with internationally recognised field scientists, the progressive development of a much wider knowledge base for growers, as well as a sizeable R&D contribution from Freshco, our export agent.

"We have been able to exceed all our initial goals and objectives for the project. We have made significant inroads into achieving our three fundamental objectives aimed at the United States market - by producing fruit with no detectable spray residues, producing optimum fruit size profiles and increasing average orchard export yields by 100 per cent," he says.

Mr Olphert says that there are encouraging signs for the new season and he is expecting the group to have another bumper season. He is also expecting some further key challenges for growers in the years ahead. "It has been estimated that avocado production in New Zealand could increase tenfold in the next decade, with the total value of the crop exceeding $250 million. This in itself will present huge challenges both here and offshore," he says.

-ends-

Contact:

* Jeremy Olphert, Independent Avocado Growers & Exporters, Ph: (07) 552-5634. Fax: (07) 552-5624 * Tony Hadfield, Technology New Zealand at the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology, (04) 917-7800, or 025 454-095. Website: www.technz.co.nz

Prepared on behalf of the Foundation for Research, Science and Technology by ID Communications. Contact: Ian Carson (04) 477-2525, ian@idcomm.co.nz


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