4 May 2009

Avocado growers hope co-operative will lift returns

7:49 am on 4 May 2009

Avocado growers are banking on a new marketing co-operative to cut costs and lift returns.

New Zealand Avocado Marketing Ltd has more than 20 large growers signed up as shareholders and is about to issue a prospectus to attract some of the smaller orchardists.

Acting managing director Mark Yortt says says costs are increasing for avocado growers, prices are falling because of oversupply, and growers are paying commissions of up to 10% on the value of export-ready fruit.

He says the co-operative hopes to address the need for growers to have more control, to address the margins and to integrate a high-pressure processing facility.

Mr Yortt says in years of high production growers are not getting an economic return from fruit sold in New Zealand.

The co-operative is aiming to sell between 400,000 and 500,000 trays in its first year, or about 10% of the national crop, and will start shipping avocados to North America in July.

He says there are also plans to process halved and sliced fruit for export.