NZ wins bid to host next World Avocado Congress

New Zealand Avocado CEO Jen Scoular at the World Avocado Congress 2019 in Colombia. Photos: Supplied.

The world’s leading avocado growers and specialists will descend upon New Zealand’s shores in 2023, for a once in a lifetime opportunity, after New Zealand won the bid to host the 10th World Avocado Congress - WAC.

This week NZ Avocado attended the World Avocado Congress 2019 in Medellin, Colombia and was one of three countries to put forward a bid to win the hosting rights for the 2023 event.

New Zealand, which contributes 2 per cent of global avocado production and is the world’s ninth largest avocado exporter, was up against Mexico, the largest avocado exporter in the world and Kenya, the sixth largest exporter of avocados globally.

NZ Avocado team and growers during the vote NZ bid campaign at the 2019 World Avocado Congress this week in Medellin, Colombia

The Mexican delegation may have made the most noise in the lead up to the announcement at the event’s closing ceremony, but in the end it was the Oceanic island nation that won the biggest share of the vote. Kenya was the other nation in the running.

New Zealand received 64 per cent of the votes while Mexico fetched 32 per cent and Kenya got 4 per cent.

The results were announced by Juan David Mondragón, president of the WAC 2019 organizing committee, at the end of the massive three-day event in Medellin that received a record 3,200 attendees - more than triple the number that attended the previous edition in Peru in 2015.

The ecstatic New Zealand delegation, which included New Zealand Avocado CEO Jen Scoular and chairman Tony Ponder as well as the country’s Ambassador to Colombia Lucy Duncan, promised to put on a top-notch event four years from now for the world’s avocado industry.

New Zealand Avocado chairman Tony Ponder (L) and CEO Jen Scoular with representatives of Mexico and Kenya

“To you all, our sincere thanks for opening your hearts and your minds to New Zealand. The journey for us begins today,” said Tony.

“For us we are very blessed the wider avocado community has recognized one of the smallest producers, and will give you our commitment that we will welcome you in New Zealand and give you a very, very good congress.”

He also gave a special thanks to Jen and her team for the work they put in to win their bid.

“We are incredibly proud to have won the votes of the global avocado community. It’s been an amazing team effort to put forward this bid, across the NZ Avocado team, Tourism New Zealand, the New Zealand Embassy in Colombia and NZTE”, says Jen.

“Thank you so much for having faith in us and for voting for us. I am so proud to be representing New Zealand having won this amazing competition. It’s a fantastic day for our whole team.”

New Zealand is the world’s ninth-largest avocado exporter, and avocados are the country’s third-largest fruit export, she says.

“Our amazing unspoiled landscapes, a reputation for openness, fairness and equality, and a commitment to care for its land and people, provides an ideal environment for the global avocado industry to share its values with consumers and media around the world,” says Jen.

The New Zealand Ambassador to Colombia Lucy Duncan and NZ Avocado CEO Jen Scoular following the bid win annoucement

Prior to the announcement in a video message NZ Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern invited voters to come and experience New Zealand’s natural beauty, unique adventures, the countries friendly people, and to see first-hand NZ’s incredible avocado industry. She encouraged attendees at the Medellin event to choose New Zealand as the destination for the 2023 WAC.

It will be the first time this global flagship event will be held in New Zealand.

The World Avocado Congress, held every four years, represents an extraordinary opportunity for New Zealand to highlight the countries innovative avocado and horticulture sectors.

The congress attracts over 3,000 delegates comprising some of the brightest minds in avocados including growers, researchers, marketers, tech innovators and investors. New Zealand has the opportunity to share how the NZ avocado industry implement initiatives to support the communities, land and economies impacted by growing avocados.

The congress will demonstrate New Zealand growing practises, food safety and quality systems, and the ethical treatment of growers and communities that live in avocado growing regions. It also provides the opportunity to access innovation, global knowledge and science to support the growth of the sector.

“This proves that a vision, hard work, team work and partnerships deliver results. The board congratulates the team that has made this happen”, says Tony. “It is a terrific win, testament to the incredibly hard work across the team and across countries. It is an amazing opportunity for all avocado growers in New Zealand to hear first-hand from avocado experts about current and emerging innovation and technology. And of course to network and share their avocado stories.”

NZ Avocados bid was generously supported by Tourism New Zealand, the New Zealand Embassy in Colombia and NZTE. The Ambassador in Colombia, Lucy Duncan hosted a VIP event and spoke at the Congress, strongly supporting New Zealand Avocado in their bid to win.

The award followed on from a speech by Colombian Vice President Marta Lucía Ramírez at the WAC closing ceremony, in which she highlighted the importance of sustainability in agriculture.

The NZ Avocado team at the World Avocado Congress 2019 in Colombia

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