The last few days have seen a flurry of activity as we get set for the lock-down and a lifestyle change that none of us could ever have comprehended.
Despite these changes we are on a ‘business as usual’ platform – with our retail partners, transporters, late-market grower suppliers, some key pack houses and the Zeafruit team all operating as normal.
Rules and conditions are tight and a lot of work has been done to ensure everybody is compliant with the MPI Covid-19 requirements. It’s a credit to so many people that the changes have not beaten them – they have just got on and made it work.
What we can tell you:
- Our retail partners have been under significant pressure and today is probably the first day that they haven’t been crowded for space or short on products. Demand has been heavy in essential grocery lines and whilst we have seen a very small lift in avocado sales, they are perishable and not currently in primary demand. This may change as consumers who traditionally purchase at Farmers Markets, road side vendors, or the local greengrocer face the reality that these outlets are no longer an option.
- Pricing for next week has not changed for sizes 16 to 30. These retail sizes are performing well but with the closure of food-service and independent trade avenues, the smaller sizes 32 to 42 have slowed significantly and values are under real pressure. Class 3 demand sits in sizes 16 to 30 only and we have made the decision to discontinue packing smaller count Class 3 sizes and process grade. This will change if demand permits.
- The risk to the industry now sits with a surplus supply of product from wholesale suppliers who do not have retail access. We have seen some senseless prices offered for next week in certain parts of the country however we believe they are for limited fruit parcels. We doubt that these levels will become the norm, however we will advise should they destabilize existing values.
- Our advice to growers who have sound late season Hass showing no signs of drop, or growers with late season Reed or Autumn set fruit is to wait. It’s only late March and trade opportunities will evolve going forward if the fruit can hold. If not, make contact with Rick or Danielle and they can discuss options.
- For any grower thinking about harvest there are immediate requirements to get registered with MPI (this can be done via the HORTNZ website) even if you are using a contract harvest option. Contract harvesters and pack-houses are working under strict operating conditions so please communicate in advance. Also be aware that there are diminishing packing options due to the cross-over with kiwifruit start-up.
We encourage you all to be proactive in this difficult period. Rick and Danielle will be in contact with many of you, sometimes just to have a chat; other times to inform you of current market related happenings. We are in this together and we wish everyone well.