Australian avocado production has reached record levels with more new plantation trees coming on-line.
As a result prices for fresh Australian-grown fruit have plummeted at the wholesale level, with trays selling in Brisbane for $5, or $15 below production cost.
Bins of lower-graded fruit have been advertised for as little as nine cents each.
Domestic consumers continue to eat more avocados - 4.76kg per person in 2021-'22 and seasonal demand at this time of year - as the weather warms - is historically strong.
But Avocados Australia CEO John Tyas says the low prices remain a bit of a mystery.
Avocados Australia is working with Hort Innovation to target domestic consumers to raise awareness of avocado health benefits while also growing export opportunities.
This year 25pc of fruit packed will head offshore, with Mr Tyas this week returning from celebrations in Thailand, now taking fruit-fly-free Western Australian fruit. The kingdom was once a key market before phytosanitary trade restrictions.
However east coast avocados are finding ready markets in Hong King, Singapore and Malaysia where young, upwardly mobile consumers are keen to incorporate the avocado into Asian cuisine.
Indian trade is looking positive, with the background work already done and approvals pending from that country. Other avenues include a new pending deal with India after 10 trial shipments landed successfully.
"As far as our domestic market goes I find it hard to understand where it is at," Mr Tyas says, pointing out supply forecasts had long tipped supply increase from new plantations. However exports targets will be exceeded this year, having grown from 2pc five years ago.
"There is always good demand at this time of year as the weather warms up."
He said New Zealand fruit would make up less than 4pc of supply this year, or 1m of 25m trays which is a significant reduction from past years due to weather and also NZ's realisation that the Australian market is limited.
"The media focus on 9c an avocado is a nonsense as the average sale is $1.20, which is not sufficient for sustainable returns," he says.
"We know from research that consumers will pay $2-$2.50 per fruit and they consider that good value. At that price the whole supply chain can be sustainable.
For the time being farmers are in a world of pain with industry sources calling for a realistic price of $3.
"They're in very bad shape. Some will leave the industry, others will go broke and some will fight-on," says Stuarts Point grower and packer Ian Tolson.
He points out the resilient ones are the family farmers.
"There's not many big companies holding on," he says.
Of the major supermarkets only Aldi is holding out a peace flag, vowing to sell 100pc Aussie avos for this season.
Increasing interest in export will play a bigger role for the industry, thanks to initiatives led by the industry peak body.
Mr Tolson says about 20 per cent of the avocados packed in his shed are sent overseas, to Hong Kong and Singapore.
Nurseryman Graham Anderson, Duranbah, provides Reed root stock for grafting onto Hass and recalls new plantations were so numerous only a few years ago that there had been a five year wait for the critical ingredient.
Mr Anderson worked with the University of Queensland to develop a better method of tissue culture, with that expertise exported to China and now India.
"The industry got too big, with too many growers. Now it has gone from one extreme to the other."
The life-long consumer of avocados credits the green fruit with many benefits to a long and fit life.
"An avocado a day," he advises.
"You need to sell them on their health benefits."
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