How New Zealand Avocados Filled Gap in U.S. Market


New Zealand avocado exporter, Avanza, was able to capitalise on a US market opportunity by partnering with CHEP and tapping into its global connections.

Avanza, a joint venture between three North Island produce exporters and marketers, manages the majority of New Zealand’s avocado supply to export markets outside of Australia. Late in 2014 a record New Zealand crop presented the opportunity for Avanza to supply avocados to the North American market.

Approaching this new export opportunity as a pilot project, it was imperative that the project adhered to tight turnaround times in order to meet the delivery window.

Knowing that their United States (US) partner used IFCO Reusable Plastic Crates (RPCs) for fresh produce, Avanza explored the opportunity of importing RPCs for re-export and packing the avocados into the crates at the packhouse.

Avanza’s Project Manager, Jerome Hardy, recognised the logistical challenge of packing and delivering fresh produce for a new export market that has unique specifications for crates and pallets and contacted CHEP to seek a time- and cost-effective solution.

As CHEP and IFCO are both part of the global Brambles group of companies, CHEP New Zealand was able to source 30,000 of the required 37-litre Lift Lock Reusable Plastic Crates (LL-RPCs) directly from IFCO in the US. This enabled all produce to be packed into the LL-RPCs in New Zealand and exported directly to Mission Produce in California.

The IFCO LL-RPC is commonly used by US fresh produce retailers to display and market their fruit and vegetables. By using locally accepted equipment, Avanza was able to eliminate the need for costly re-packing to meet local specifications and facilitate a timely direct-to-retail distribution of the avocados within the US market.

CHEP’s global connections were of significant benefit to Avanza; enabling the timely supply of LL-RPC’s from the US into New Zealand and their subsequent allocation and delivery to the participating local packhouses.

CHEP New Zealand also had wooden pallets custom made to CHEP USA specifications in order to facilitate trouble free unloading and distribution of the produce once it arrived offshore. The pallets were assembled, heat-treated and stamped, then supplied to each of the packhouses in the designated volumes.

When the LL-RPCs arrived at the packhouses, Avanza was able to coordinate the sorting, grading and packing of the export produce. Each LL-RPC held approximately 17kg of avocados, arranged in two tiers on moulded fibre board trays that were also sourced from the US. The LL-RPCs were stacked and loaded onto the new CHEP USA pallets and secured in preparation for cold storage and refrigerated/controlled atmosphere transportation.

All the packhouses involved needed to implement new packing procedures as each crate weighed more than a regular box of avocados and each pallet was stacked to a greater height.

Avanza was impressed that all partners in this pilot were able to deliver solutions in the required timeframes, which resulted in a total of 14 40-foot containers, or approximately 300 metric tonnes of avocados being dispatched. The first New Zealand avocados were available in the US retail market within four weeks of leaving the New Zealand packhouses.

CHEP was also able to coordinate the transfer of ownership of the LL-RPCs and wooden pallets between New Zealand and the US so that once the produce was exported, the equipment remained in the US and became part of the local offshore pool, reducing supply chain costs and providing a sustainable solution.

Jerome Hardy says, “I came to CHEP looking for a supply chain and logistics partner to facilitate a just-in-time delivery of fresh produce to the US. This was a big opportunity for us, and one that simply had to run smoothly if we were to consider supplying into the US market on a larger scale in the future.

“CHEP’s response was fast, efficient and comprehensive. They sat down with us at the planning stage of this project and took responsibility for all aspects of the supply of crates and pallets. They delivered a seamless solution that worked for us, and our US customer.

“We are confident that with CHEP as our partner we can now supply any produce line into other export markets.”

Source: CHEP Australia & New Zealand