Avocados: With one voice The benefits of a concerted approach have been paying dividends for the South African Avocado Growers Association. It has brought the key players round the table to deal with industry issues and create promotional campaigns. It is now in its fifth year of a promotional campaign in the UK and chairman Louis Vorster estimates consumption has doubled in the last three years and an additional 2.3m consumers have been introduced to the product over the period. Vorster wants to make that five million. SAAGA's executive director Chris Keevy adds: "This year has been a tremendous success in terms of generating awareness of the South African avocado season, particularly at its peak in June and July. "Retailers have also been supportive of our campaign and instore sampling." The South Africans benefited from a good crop last year while the Israelis and the Spanish had a poor one. This year volumes are lower than last. Vorster says: "Nevertheless I am critical of what we are doing and believe in a process of continual improvement. The growers have been benefiting from quality procedures put in place by the association, including the logistics chain from pack house to port." SAAGA has been working on ensuring greater availability of controlled atmosphere containers and greater regularity of shipping. "There have been problems in the past," says Vorster, "Now there is co-operation between the different players. Before SAAGA came along container ships were leaving the ports erratically and a main achievement has been our work with the shippers." It has also brought the growers and exporters together so they can deal with conflicts before they arise. "I am proud of what we have done. The information that SAAGA gives its members is better than many of the comparable and larger fruit industries." In the long term the association will be coordinating research and development so that it can contain its competitive commercial edge. Most in the industry will benefit because 80% of the growers are members. The association will also be working on quality control and traceability issues. {{Z SUPPLEMENTS }}