‘Avo-cargo’ set for Asian markets in win for first-time exporters

Australian avocado producers are exporting via sea freight for the first time ahead of a bumper season, with national production forecast to increase by 60 per cent.

Exporters in Western Australia and Queensland are trialling shipping refrigerated containers of avocados to South East Asia and Japan, using controlled atmosphere technology to ensure the fruit arrives in pristine condition after a 20-30 day journey.

The trials will open the door for many first-time growers to reach international consumers and avoid crowding the Australian market.

“The sea freighting trials are a huge boost for the Australian avocado industry,” Flora Zhang, Export Development Manager for Avocados Australia, said.

“Traditionally, more than 95 per cent of the avocados grown in Australia are consumed in Australia, but export is an important and developing sector for the industry.

“New orchards being established means production will continue to rise over the next five years, further increasing the pressure on the domestic market, so exporting is essential.”

Avocados Australia expects more than 50 per cent of avocado shipments out of Western Australia this year will be from first-time exporters.

WA-based The Avocado Collective is among those trying sea freight for the first time, and has built a $1 million sealed cold-docking facility at Manjimup to assist with the process.

The Avocado Collective’s General Manager, Josh Franceschi, said they will be delivering Hass avocados via sea to Singapore, Malaysia, Hong Kong, Indonesia and Japan.   

“We are trying to find the sweet spot for shelf-life on the avocados and trialling different controlled-atmosphere methods to get the best results we can,” Mr Franceschi said.

“We’ve got a controlled-atmosphere container, and will be running trials throughout the course of the season on shelf-life verification and fruit age.

“This season is going to be humongous – the biggest season we’ve ever seen. There’s going to be a huge increase in volume, which is why it is so important to develop the export market.”  

Minister for Trade, Tourism and Investment Dan Tehan said avocado exporters were able to stay connected with their existing international customers last season thanks in part to the Government’s International Freight Assistance Mechanism (IFAM).

The program is helping maintain essential airfreight supply lines impacted by COVID-19 disruptions, while giving Australian businesses time to align their operating models to ‘new look’ supply chains.

“Our Government is supporting jobs and businesses by ensuring local producers can continue to reach their international customers,” Minister Tehan said.

“Since April 2020, IFAM has reconnected nine Australian ports to 58 international destinations and helped the movement of high-value perishable Australian products to global markets, while also facilitating critical National Interest imports.

“It is exciting the avocado industry is exploring ways to adjust to ‘new look’ supply chains and are able to deliver their product to global destinations. Australia is a trading nation and trade creates jobs, drives innovation and underpins our economic growth.”

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