Cheap avocado prices “unrealistic”

Remember the bad old days of the $11 avocado? That was back in May.

The passage of the seasons has subsequently done wonderful things for deprived palates, which were forced to salivate in vain back then.

Vegeland in Christchurch has been advertising avocado at 39 cents each on Facebook.

In Waikato, a roadside stall went further, selling small avocados for $3 for a bag of 10.

However, the industry organisation, New Zealand Avocado, says these prices were unrealistic.

They probably stemmed from the practise of loss-leading, when stores marketed goods at a loss in order to entice people into their shops.

"It actually costs about $1 to grow, put through the supply chain and market a New Zealand avocado," says its chief executive, Jen Scoular.

"So nobody is making a profit when avocados are sold for $1."

Jen says the world price was $2 per avocado, so people selling way less than that were probably trying to attract value to other aspects of their trade.

Traditionally, the practice of loss-leading lures customers into a shop with the offer of very cheap goods.

That loss is recovered when people discover other things they did not realise they need, and pay a higher price for them.

But loss-leading or not, Jen says prices for avocados would generally stay low for another couple of months.

If you can get avocados below cost, and buy them in large volumes, what can you do with them?

Food writer Annabel Langbein has produced some ideas - including using the freezer.

"If you make your favourite guacamole, and put in lots of lemon juice so it does not oxidise and go brown, then you can freeze it to eat when avocados are not in season and do not cost 30 cents each."

Annabel says another option is to use avocado as a bulk filler for sweet treats, such as chocolate mousse.

She urges people not to cook avocado, as it "tastes revolting", and she can't understand recipes that called for avocado on pizzas.


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