24 February 2016, Avocado Health

Avocado prices, demand put pressure on Australian cafes and restaurants

Cafes around Australia are starting to feel the pressure of the rising avocado prices — a fruit that is a staple on breakfast menus.

Supermarkets are selling the fruit for about $5 each, and cafe owners say they are struggling with the dual problem of expensive stock that is also in short supply.

Last week, Avocados Australia chief executive John Tyas told the ABC production was significantly less than last year, with a break in harvesting and rain in New Zealand cited as contributing factors. Mr Tyas said he expected supply to remain low for several months.

The manager of the Mister Mr Cafe in the Melbourne suburb of Windsor, Scott Kennedy, said the business would have to consider passing increased prices onto customers. “Taking smashed avocado off the menu in Melbourne probably isn’t the smartest option,” he said. “We wouldn’t like to make menu changes but there might need to be price rises on dishes if it stays this way.”

Mr Kennedy said avocado was ordered by about 50 per cent of his breakfast customers. “It’s an important part of our business and it’s something we can’t go without…they’ve become such a common breakfast staple,” he said.

Restaurateur may consider getting avocados from supermarkets

Michael Andrews, who manages Lucky Duck Cafe in Brisbane’s West End, is facing a similar problem. He said he needed to consider switching suppliers or potentially getting his avocados from major chain supermarkets. For the time being he said they would “cop it on the chin” and not increase menu prices.

“It’s always been something we’ve offered. One of our main dishes has avocado and it’s one of the most popular,” he said.

The avocado situation has had less of an impact on restaurant Oscar Cooper in Melbourne due to a fixed-price deal the restaurant has with its suppliers. However, owner Paul Butera said his staff were still facing challenges. “It’s having an impact on quality. We’re throwing out about 20 to 25 per cent because even when we do ripen them up they’re unusable,” he said.

Mr Butera said his restaurant was implementing a new menu with less avocado items and believed others would need to consider a similar approach if prices remained high. “If you can’t get avocados and its inequitable when you can get them, how can you run a business like that?” he said.

“There’s a lot of moving parts in hospitality and a lot of variables.”