By Jacob Darling, GM Group Sales and Marketing
Just Avocados started picking, packing, and exporting in mid-August with most of the volume coming from the Far North.
Just Avocados has engaged in an Asian market development strategy this season focusing on 20% – 25% of volume heading to Asia. This Asian volume is significantly lower than what we originally set out to achieve and the change is primarily driven by a strong Australian market and the requirement to have a sharp focus on getting Asian quality outturns spot on. We recognise the importance of our Asian development programme as this is where future values will be driven from as early as next season. We are also mindful of the continuing short Australian market that needs to be prioritised for growers returns.
To date, Just Avocados has exported 45,000 trays – 10% of total export volume. Of that volume, 9000 trays have gone to Asia with the balance being sent to Australian retail. Our Asian destinations this season to date are Taiwan, China and Thailand which are all development markets for the Just Avocados sales and marketing team.
Industry data to date shows 125,000 trays have been exported to Australia which means Just Avocados’ volume represents 28% of this figure. Industry Asia-bound volumes represent 45,000 trays with Just Avocados representing 20% of this figure.
The Korean market has not yet started for Just Avocados or the industry due to the late season of Peruvian avocados entering this market. Korea is a critical component of our Asian market development, but we are mindful of the challenges a late season start will impose for our growers, such as our advancing fruit age.
Our early pool is looking relatively strong which is great to see, as it allows growers to get a significant amount of crop off early to ensure consistent production long term. Quality and size profile will play a significant part in the overall season’s result.
Quality to date has been very good which is fantastic. All Just Avocados stakeholders have worked extremely hard to reassess the supply chain and our on-orchard practices to ensure we continue to deliver a premium product. Outturns have taken place in Australia, China, Taiwan, and Thailand all being positive to date. We remind growers and stakeholders to be vigilant when picking around rain events as we are only three weeks into harvest with still a very long season ahead.
Size profile has been the most challenging aspect of the season to date. The industry is currently running at a 50.5% 28 CT and smaller size profile which is concerning when you consider the BOP contribution to total export volumes year to date. Just Avocados 28 CT and smaller is running at 43% which is pleasing to see when compared to industry numbers. We are seeing a significant difference by region which highlights the importance of irrigation in times of low rain fall. Our grower services team continue to promote size picking which makes commercial sense when reflecting on values out of the market for all grades both export and domestic, something I hope growers take on board over the coming weeks.
Thank fully, Just Avocados have developed a range of channels for small fruit which allow us to mitigate our exposure in the existing size profile. Retail prepack programmes have commenced for the 2020 season which will consume a large portion of our small fruit sizes, we have also been developing specific prepacks for 72 CT fruit which is featuring in China, Taiwan, Thailand, and Singapore. All markets are developing as we look to utilise our in-market customers to import, manufacture and distribute these prepacks.
We are still in the process of evaluating C19 effects and as we are all aware this has been subject to change rapidly. We are working with continued shipping delays and airfreight remains a challenge with closed borders; however, we have made the appropriate changes well in advance with airlines. It is important to note that demand has been up from a prepack and online perspective due to changing consumer perceptions around the safety of their food choices and the way they shop for food.
Our sales and marketing team have engaged with a specialised market agency with links across Asia to contribute to developing and growing our New Zealand avocado brands. The focus being the promotion of quality and health benefits to the end consumer. This is being achieved through in store sampling, prepack promotions, online advertising, and other formats to ensure we get our marketing messages through consumers.
Our in-store marketing has taken a great leap this season with the development of a range of consumer facing materials. Our marketing material focuses on the tagline of Family. Fresh. Fun. which covers the people/origin, the product characteristics, and the how-to aspects of engaging with our brand.