Wednesday, 14 February 2024 07:25

New avocado boss eyes boosting grower returns

Written by  Sudesh Kissun
NZ Avocado chief executive Brad Siebert says the sector is facing a significant drop in export volumes while operating costs are rising. NZ Avocado chief executive Brad Siebert says the sector is facing a significant drop in export volumes while operating costs are rising.

Boosting grower returns is the number one priority for new NZ Avocado chief executive Brad Siebert.

The avocado sector is facing a significant drop in export volumes while operating costs are rising. This season, export volumes are down a million trays due to weather-related impacts on fruit quality.

Siebert, along with a new NZ Avocado board, is drawing up a new strategy to meet those challenges.

They plan to review their structure and an approach to export systems that are agile and efficient and bring long term resilience.

"Our inheret challenges are achieving consistent yields of high-quality fruit and building demand in export markets," Siebert told Hort News.

"For this reason, we are pursuing market opportunities, removing unnecessary compliance and advocating for growers' views to ensure policy settings with central and regional governments that are fit for purpose.

"To overcome the competition that we now face in some of our key markets, the sector will need to prioritise market development offshore and within New Zealand at a sufficient intensity to overcome these challenges."

Siebert replaces Jen Scoular who stepped down in 2023 after 12 years in the role. He joined NZ Avocados 10 years ago, to manage the Primary Growth Partnership, a crown co-funded programme focused on market diversification, supply chain collaboration and the industry systems supporting an export focused sector.

Siebert has also led the biosecurity, risk management, market access, resource management and sustainability areas of the association. He says he's proud to be able to lead a team focused on supporting the growers and supply chain partners of the avocado industry.

"It is of course daunting with the realities of the current season being realised, however my background and relationships that I have built are well suited to the areas that the industry needs to have a focus on in the coming years to ensure that growers get rewarded for what they do best.

"I am confident that we have the right talent through the team, within the industry and around the board table to meet the challenges ahead."

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