Auckland, May 9, 2019
Aucklanders have drawn a line in the sand when it comes to the price of avocados – saying $12.50 is too much.
A Remuera greengrocer, Jack Lum and Co, has lowered the price to $10.99 after sales halved due to the high prices. Its avocados are no ordinary specimens – all 13-centimetres long, roughly the length of a hand – and are ready to eat.
But Jack Lum said even those factors were not enough to entice people to buy them.
“We probably sold half of what I used to sell so I thought I got to bring it down. It doesn’t matter if I don’t make any money. It’s not about making money, it’s about selling your product, otherwise you make more waste trying to make customers happy,” he said.
Fruit not in season
Mr Lum, who has been in business for 49 years, said not many retailers stocked avocados at this time of year, when the fruit was not in season.
He said on top of the growers’ prices, transporting costs and wastage made the profit from each avocado minimal at best.
“The customers don’t know you do not sell the whole crate of avocados … because there’ll be wastage from over-handling and you’ll lose 20%.”
One loyal customer, Jason, travels from Westmere for the high-quality avocados at Mr Lum’s store.
“The quality is extraordinary. Of course, $10.99 is expensive but for this price it’ll be perfect and if there’s ever a problem, you can always bring them back and they’ll exchange them.”
“Waste of Money”
Grace Riley said it was a “waste of money” for one avocado and despite loving the fruit, she could not justify the spend.
Chief executive of NZ Avocado Jen Scoular said a price hike was not uncommon at this time of year, when demand was bigger than supply.
“We are hearing about the price of avocados and I think we have to be realistic – they’re a seasonal fruit and we are in the low period where we have a couple of months in between the seasons in April and May,” she said.
She said the last season had brought some challenges that did not help current avocado stocks.
“Last season, we had a really early maturity so the season was a good five or six weeks earlier than normal,” she said.
However, Ms Scoular said avocado lovers would be happy to hear the new season started in June, and the industry had 1000 hectares of new planting on top of nearly 4000 hectares of trees already producing fruit.
She said that would mean avocados on the shelves – and more in the seasons to come.
Brooke Jenner is a Journalist at Radio New Zealand. The above Report and Picture have been published under a Special Arrangement with www.rnz.co.nz
Jack Lum in his Remuera, Auckland Greengrocery. (Photo for RNZ by Brooke Jenner)