Agriculture: Avocado producers unite to keep fruit produce fresh and local

The Bundaberg Mail News

A new avocado marketing company is bringing together producers from around the country to ensure Australian families have access to locally grown fruit all year round.

Founded in March 2012 by Bundaberg producer Lachlan Donovan, Ravensbourne producer Daryl Boardman and West Australian avocado packer Jennie Franceschi of Advanced Packing and Marketing Services, The Avolution represents growers in Queensland, Victoria and WA and supplies 20% of Australia’s avocados.

Mr Donovan, director and co-owner of The Avolution, said the business had evolved from a need to “market fruit in a better way”.

He said he considered hiring a marketing professional to handle sales of avocados from his 50,000 trees in Bundaberg but said the difficulty was the person would only be required for the seven months of the year, when his fruit was picked and packed.

“The problem was, there would be nothing for them to do for the rest of the year and they would lose interest. So Daryl and I got together and worked out how we could develop a 12-month-a-year operation that could supply the chains, wholesalers and retailers all year round,” Mr Donovan said.

“We decided to get someone to manage the system and grow and develop the market not only for us but for other Australian growers, who needed help. We found the right person in Antony Allen.”

Chief executive officer Antony Allen said The Avolution simplified and centralised the marketing of avocados, so that growers could concentrate on what they did best – producing some of the finest fruit in the world.

“We are focused on the expansion of the avocado category, as well as making sure that growers are maximising returns on their fruit,” said Mr Allen.

Another major avocado pack house, Advanced Packing and Marketing Services in WA then supplied the missing piece of The Avolution puzzle, by supplying fruit for the months of the year when the east coast was not producing.

Between the three main pack houses, which included a network of smaller growers, who supplied fruit to APMS and Mr Boardman’s Sunnyspot Pack House in Ravensbourne, Queensland, The Avolution had the 12-month supply covered, Mr Donovan said.

“Previously, there was a period in the year, when the New Zealand marketers would come in and offer to supply avocados to the supermarket chains because there was no unity of supply from the Australian growers,” he said.

“The Avolution was designed to give service to the chains, so they don’t have to go overseas chasing fruit. There is a 12-month supply of fruit here in Australia and if we can manage that supply, it helps the whole system,” he said.

Since its formation, The Avolution has secured business with Woolworths, Coles and several independents, including premium grocer Thomas Dux.

The Avolution co-owner and director Daryl Boardman said the key difference between The Avolution and competing marketing companies was its grower-owned status.

He said other companies and market agents could not provide the paddock-to-plate detail The Avolution could instantly supplied to customers.

“There are people out there, who can buy fruit from anywhere but don’t know the origin of it or how long the fruit has been sitting around,” Mr Boardman said.

“We, on the other hand, own the trees and own the fruit. Or if not, we are dealing directly with the farmers supplying it.

“We can trace all the fruit back to the individual farmer’s paddocks – and that is something other businesses cannot provide.”

 

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