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Global Heavyweight at Avocado Industry Conference

Global Heavyweight to Share Latest Nutrition Research at Avocado Industry Conference

TAURANGA, Thursday 5th September 2013: New international research regarding the health benefits of avocados will be a hot topic in Tauranga next week, as 50 world experts speak at an industry conference which is only held in New Zealand once every eight years.

The American-based Hass Avocado Board (HAB) will share new research in a keynote presentation at ‘Nutritional Values’ - the fifth Quadrennial New Zealand and Australian Avocado Growers’ Conference, to be held at the ASB Arena Baypark from 9-12 September.

The research indicates that consuming avocados may be associated with better diet quality and nutrient intake level, lower intake of added sugars, lower body weight, BMI and waist circumferences, higher “good cholesterol” levels and lower metabolic syndrome risk.

In addition to sharing information on the growing body of Hass avocado research,  HAB will share new analysis of data, published this year in Nutrition Journal, from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) in the US, a programme of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).* 

Emiliano Escobedo, Executive Director of HAB, says the organisation is investing millions of dollars in nutrition research, which the New Zealand avocado industry has long contributed to, with top researchers and institutions.

“The Hass Avocado Board is funding additional clinical studies to investigate the relationship between fresh avocado consumption and risk factors for cardiovascular disease, avocados' potential positive role in weight management and diabetes, and avocados' ability to enhance nutrient absorption,” says Escobedo.

Just last week New Zealand Avocado announced that the industry would receive a $4 million boost in research funding from a successful bid made to the Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment (MBIE) 2013 Science Investment Round.

The investment over the next five years into the Plant & Food Research project ‘Avocados for Export’ aims to contribute to doubling New Zealand’s average avocado yield through identifying causes of irregular fruit bearing and will also introduce new storage and shipping systems to export increased volumes of fruit.

Avocados are New Zealand’s third largest fresh fruit export, and had an industry value of $60 million in 2012-2013 for both domestic and export volumes.

Over 400 delegates are due to attend the conference and Ashby Whitehead, chair of the New Zealand Avocado Growers’ Association Inc (NZAGA). and New Zealand Avocado Industry Council Ltd, says there is a fantastic line up of speakers who will inform, inspire and challenge growers.

“Those involved in our industry are passionate about growing our markets and that means keeping on top of global research, innovation and trends,” Whitehead says.

“Consumers are becoming increasingly conscious of the health benefits of the food they are eating. People now place a high value on “functional” and “super” foods such as avocado. We need to explore opportunities to leverage the nutritional benefits of this fruit, especially as we seek to further develop markets in Asia,” he says.

Fifty renowned experts from New Zealand, Australia, South Africa and the United States will discuss the nutritional findings, as well as talk about the latest pruning techniques, irregular bearing, disease management, new cultivars, nutrient management, pollination, quality improvement, market development, promotions, economics, biosecurity, and supply chain improvement.

The upcoming conference is hosted in New Zealand only once every eight years. It is held as part of the memorandum of understanding between NZAGA and their Australian counterparts, Avocados Australia, to foster a stronger working relationship between the two peak industry bodies.

Speaker highlights

·        Dr Russell Ballard, Independent Chair of the Plant Market Access Council, will share insights on the New Zealand avocado industry’s potential – sponsored by Port of Tauranga.
·        Nadia Lim, New Zealand Avocado ambassador, will present on culinary and nutritional aspects of avocados.
·        Stephen Toplis, BNZ’s head of research, will share the economic outlook for the Asian region – an important growth region for the avocado industry.
·        Lisa Cork, recent winner of the PMA-A marketer of the year award, will share her insights on innovative marketing and messaging – sponsored by Jenkins Freshpac Systems.
·        Dr Mark Dreher, a nutrition research advisor to the Hass Avocado Board in the USA, will share information on the latest clinical trials to test effects of avocado on various aspects of health.
·        Dr Andrew Geering, a Senior Research Fellow at the University of Queensland who works to improve food security through providing control options for diseases that affect sub-tropical and tropical horticultural crops such as banana, pineapple, avocado, tomato and other vegetables.
·        Dr Zelda Van Rooyen will share the South African experience of growing avocados and the evaluation and commercialisation of new cultivar and rootstock material.
·        Peter Thomson, Ministry for Primary Industries and Simon Hegarty, Horticultural Export Authority will each speak on market access for New Zealand avocados into overseas markets.
·        Ian Proudfoot, Global Sector Leader for Agribusiness, KPMG, will talk about New Zealand’s place in the global agri-food system and ask – what could the future look like?

HAB’s attendance at the conference is being supported by the Agricultural and Marketing Research and Development Trust (AGMARDT), who invests around $2.7 million per year aimed at exploring market opportunities, encouraging innovative ideas, and developing future leaders within the agribusiness sectors. AGMARDT is also supporting Dr Andrew Geering to attend and present. 

New exporter collaboration AVOCO™ is the Nutritional Values principal conference partner. AVOCO™ was created by New Zealand’s two largest avocado exporters – Auckland-based Primor Produce Ltd and Te Puna’s Southern Produce Ltd.

*To read the overview from Nutrition Journal:  http://www.eurekalert.org/pub_releases/2013-02/c-nsi022013.php

About New Zealand Avocado
Avocados are the third-largest fresh fruit export from New Zealand. New Zealand Avocado works with the New Zealand industry to set export standards, facilitate market access, promote avocados from New Zealand and provide technical information to all New Zealand growers, of which there are more than 1600, based mainly in the Bay of Plenty and Northland. Website: www.nzavocado.co.nz/industry/

About the Hass Avocado Board
The Hass Avocado Board was established in 2002 to promote the consumption of Hass avocados in the United States. A 12-member board representing domestic producers and importers of Hass avocados directs HAB's promotion, research and information programs under supervision of the United States Department of Agriculture. Hass avocados are grown in California and imported into the US from Mexico, Chile, Peru, Dominican Republic and New Zealand.

About AVOCO™ – Nutritional Values Principal Conference Partner
AVOCO™ is an exciting hybrid company created by the two largest avocado exporters from New Zealand: Primor Produce Ltd and Southern Produce Ltd. Formerly very competitive international rivals, they have recognised that the interests of the New Zealand avocado industry and its growers are best served by a unified entity. Together as AVOCO™, they now account for about 75% of the export market for avocados to leading supermarket chains and distributors in Australia. This move in Australia is the final piece in the marketing jigsaw that marries Primor Produce and Southern Produce in all avocado markets, with their exports to other countries handled by AVANZA.


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