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Cheaper than chips – Avocados glut leads to giveaway prices and growing pains

RNZ reports that a surplus of avocados this year has led to very low prices at the supermarket but has wiped out growers’ profits.

One supermarket, PAK’nSAVE in Hastings, was selling the fruit for only nine cents each as a one-off special while other supermarkets in Hawke’s Bay were selling the fruit for around $1.

New Zealand Avocado chief executive Jen Scoular told RNZ there was a huge volume of the fruit in the country, which was great news for consumers but bad news for growers.

“To actually be rewarded for the effort put in to growing premium avocados, the price point certainly needs to be better than [9 cents],” she said.

“There will be no return at all for growers at that value – avocados need to sell for about $1 to cover the cost and the effort that avocado growers have put in to growing avocados, so it’s definitely a loss leader from a retailer perspective.

Growers have experienced a difficult season due to reduced exports to Australia and the impact of the Covid-19 lockdowns.

Avocado Growers’ Association Vice Chair Alistair Nicholson told Midday Report that this was due to a perfect storm of export delays, a fruit glut and Covid-19 restricted hospitality demand.

“The only channel that’s been available for us for distribution is through supermarkets. So the ability to move avocados and make them available to those people that want to buy them and use them has been severely restricted.

“The industry is not looking for any support from the government … we accept that there is volatility in our industry. What would help us, is it would be easy to access our export markets.”

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