It was summer 2018 and Australians were sweating. In their hands: a single avocado pear, barely ripe. The price: $ 9. Can it be worth it? And how many times had he been in a hurry?
Fortunately, while a lot has gone wrong in the world since that fateful January, one thing has gone well – this winter Australians can afford to eat whatever they love on toast, the tasty fruits. greens selling for just $ 1 (55 pence, or 77c) each.
The mind-blowing price drop is due to a bumper crop – the result of good weather and new trees. Australia is home to three million avocado trees; half of these have been planted in the last five years alone. Trees can take as little as three or four years to start bearing fruit.
“Avocado production is 65% higher this year than last year,” said John Tyas, CEO of Avocados Australia. “The planets have aligned and it’s phenomenal. “
For avocado lovers, the good news keeps coming. New technology developed this year by the University of Queensland could see 500 new trees produced from a one-millimeter cutting in the future, compared to the only tree by cutting that growers are currently getting, the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
“Like many people in the developed world, Australians didn’t really eat avocado 20 years ago,” Tyas said.
He attributes the local appetite for the fresh spread – technically a berry – to the fact that avocados can be grown year round. Australians also eat avocados for breakfast – along with the beloved and now ubiquitous ‘crushed avocado’ – minced with a fork, seasoned and served on toast – made world famous by Sydney chef Bill Granger.
The country’s per capita avo consumption is 4 kg per year, more than the US at 3.6 kg and well ahead of the UK’s 1.4 kg.
“My parents probably didn’t eat avo until they were in their 50s,” said Daryl Boardman, who swapped dryland wheat and cotton for avocados in 1999. “I haven’t eaten any before. the age of 20. Now people are starting to eat. them like babies.
The appetite for avocado in Australia is so ravenous that young people have been warned to stop eating so much if they ever want to own their own homes. In 2016, a columnist for the News Corp newspaper The Australian complained of having personally seen young people paying “$ 22 a pop and more” for broken avo, when they could have saved that money for a house. in place. Financial advice was repeated by Australian millionaire Tim Gurner in 2017.
The price of a dollar can mean Millennial Australians can finally have it all.
“This is the year to collect your home deposit,” Tyas said with a laugh. “While avocados are such a great value, you should be able to save a few bucks. Again, house prices in Australia are among the fastest growing in the world. And unlike avocados, money doesn’t grow on trees.
Australian avocado production has more than doubled in ten years, from 40,000 tonnes in 2009/10 to nearly 90,000 in 2019/20 – worth almost half a billion dollars (493 million Australian dollars). Of these, 80% were Hass avocados – the much-maligned Shepard variety accounting for 17%. Only 5% of this quantity is exported.
He’s likely to double again over the next ten years, Tyas said.
The small number of imported avocados come from relatively nearby New Zealand, meaning Australian consumers are not exposed to so-called “blood avocados” grown in Mexico and produced with the involvement of violent cartels.
Australia plans to increase its avocado exports, with the Avocado Fund – a research and development fund funded by levies paid by farmers – aiming to export 10% of avocados this year. The UK is unlikely to be able to say G’day to anything: already served by low-cost providers, it is also very far from Australia.
Rather, producers have their eyes on Asia. Australia recently gained access to the Japanese market – a tricky negotiation, as the Queensland fruit fly is a quarantine pest.
The Asian market will be important if farmers want to reap the benefits of larger crops. Australian avocados are finally competitive with those in markets such as Chile and Mexico, Boardman said. He also hopes the lower local cost will mean more people can afford to eat them – and those who are already into slicing around a big brown pip will buy more than ever.
He just wants buyers to stop squeezing the fruit. “It’s not good for lawyers. this is their most vulnerable period, ”he said. “They have to be handled like eggs. “