24 February 2016, Avocado Health

Avocado industry hits back at claims of price manipulation

As the price of avocados climbs higher, the peak industry body has described claims that Western Australian growers are to blame for the high prices as “ludicrous”. Is there avocado price manipulation at play?

A former chief executive of Avocados Australia, Antony Allen, told the Sydney Morning Herald that WA growers put extra supply on the market prior to Christmas in order to keep prices low, and that decision had led to the current shortage.

Prices for a tray of avocados are sitting around $80, with retail prices anywhere between $3.50 and $6.00 a fruit

The current CEO of Avocados Australia, John Tyas, said industry in Australia and New Zealand collect and share data on forecast volumes and the amount of fruit dispatched from packing sheds. He said the industry always tries to avoid large swings in supply, and it doesn’t make any sense that growers would try to lower the price of avocadoes in the first place.

“It is ludicrous to think that growers would push fruit through to a market at lower prices, that’s resulted in a shortage and a price spike,” Mr Tyas said.

“It doesn’t make sense to me, our records show that the volumes of fruit that flowed through to the market before Christmas were consistent with what the forecasts were showing.”

Wet weather in south west WA and New Zealand has prevented growers from picking and that has slowed deliveries to market. South Australian grower Colin Fechner said he believed those weather events were the most likely cause of the current price spike.

“We have a very good marketing system so we supply when needed and when we have to,” Mr Fechner said. “It is weather conditions that stopped picking in recent weeks.”

Mr Tyas said it was encouraging to see the public was so concerned about avocados becoming more expensive. “The interest in this topic over the last week or so has been incredible and I guess it highlights how popular the fruit has become.”