The world’s avocado industry came together to collaborate and influence positive growth of the whole sector at the recent 10th World Avocado Congress in Auckland from 2-5 April 2023.
The event kicked off with buses taking 760 delegates to visit orchards and packhouses across two days in south Auckland, Northland, and Bay of Plenty, and to hear science presentations from Plant and Food Research. 35% of delegates listed agritech as a reason for being at the congress, and they were able to view seven New Zealand agritech businesses in operation.
This was followed by three days of packed academic programming at Auckland city centre venue Aotea Centre - Te Pokapū. The event started with a traditional welcome from local iwi (tribe) Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, and a Māori cultural performance to immerse guests in Aotearoa New Zealand’s culture.
New Zealand’s agritech industry, horticulture sector and destination appeal attracted 1,160 attendees including 750 international delegates from Mexico, Peru, and South Africa.
One of the keynotes, remote sensing researcher Andrew Robson, noted: “It was a great conference and following the keynote, we have had Spain, Peru, Africa, new growers in Western Australia and New Zealand Avocado all making contact seeking engagement.”
Midge Munro, one of the gold sponsors from Darling Group, said: “The event absolutely hit the mark for us in terms of brand exposure, networking and business development opportunities. Such an awesome global platform where we could tell our story, bring the team together and gather global perspective to strengthen our activity going forward.”
Said Jen Scoular, CEO of conference host, New Zealand Avocado, and president of the World Avocado Congress Committee: “It was an amazing opportunity to showcase our wonderful country, our growers, our technology and of course our avocado sector. New Zealand currently produces just 2% of the global supply but is the ninth largest international avocado exporter, with an ambitious strategy to grow to a NZ$1 billion (US$620 million) industry by 2040.”
New knowledge for New Zealand
The congress featured eight keynote speakers, panel discussions, and more than 130 presentations from speakers representing 16 countries. Topics ranged from science in avocados, consumer marketing, climate change, to technology and sustainability initiatives.
Sessions were translated in both Spanish and English. Booths from nine sponsors and 26 exhibitors across three levels of the venue.
The conference’s theme of “respectful; respect for people, respect for the environment, respect for our future” was echoed in its organisation. From gifting refillable water bottles to the use of a conference app to reduce collateral, sustainability efforts were made across energy and water saving, waste reduction, and recycling.
Attendees were encouraged to explore Auckland and make the most of down time, with the congress app setting out routes between the venue, hotels, local restaurants and attractions.
“People really liked being able to walk down the street to have a meal together or visit Britomart, Commercial Bay or the Viaduct. It was great to see people with their vibrant congress bags and lanyards on, walking around enjoying Auckland,” said Scoular.
A lasting positive impact
The conference delivered a NZ$2.6 million (US$1.58 million) boost to the visitor economy for Auckland and New Zealand. It received funding and support for its bid and marketing though Auckland Convention Bureau, a division of Tātaki Auckland Unlimited, and Tourism New Zealand’s Business Events team.
Leveraging the opportunities
Besides a gala dinner at Cordis Auckland, other events were arranged around the conference, including:
· WAC Gold sponsor, US-based agritech company, TOMRA Food, offering a tour of its Auckland processing premises as a networking opportunity
· New Zealand company Avoco celebrating 20 years as an exporter with growers and stakeholders at Rydges Auckland
· Darling Group hosting a networking event for clients and growers at Four Points by Sheraton
· Spain-headquartered agritech company, Maf Roda, a Gold sponsor, hosting a function at the conference venue
· Australian Avocados, celebrating 20 years, with a function at the Millennium Hotel for their growers
· A meeting of The Boards of both New Zealand Avocados and Australian Avocados
· IFPA A-NZ hosting a networking function with Cathy Burns, their US CEO, and one of the keynote speakers.