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A New Zealand owned avocado company has targeted the billion dollar food service market, with a goal to switch consumers from imported to locally grown produce.

Fressure Foods, a mainly grower-owned organisation, is encouraging Kiwi food trade companies to source locally produced avocados wherever possible to support local farmers and meet with growing consumer demand.

Currently the imported avocado industry in New Zealand is valued at around $1 million and around 200 tonnes of the fruit are brought into the country each year. Fressure Foods CEO, Graeme Laurence, says this quantity of imported produce is no longer necessary and is negatively impacting local growers.

“Until fairly recently, we relied on countries like Mexico for avocados because they utilise a technology which helps to prolong the life of the fruit. But last year, Fressure Foods introduced this same food processing technology into New Zealand which dramatically extends the shelf life of avocados without the use of any chemicals or additives,” Laurence says.

The Ultra High Pressure (UHP) processing technology, which is also known as cold pasteurization, uses pressures of up to 87,000 psi to shock and kill bacteria in food products. “We’re able to increase the shelf life of avocado spreads and guacamole to 60 days. The UHP is also an environmentally friendly process and does not affect the texture, flavour, consistency or nutrients in the fruit,” he says.

A number of local quick service restaurants have already embraced the strategy, using only New Zealand grown avocados in their burritos and burgers. Mexicali Fresh representative Tyler Kerlin says that it is important for them to support other local businesses.

“As a Kiwi company, we understand the importance of utilising home-grown products wherever we can. Our customers also want food and ingredients that come from New Zealand and not abroad because they trust that it will be fresh and of premium quality. It’s quite simply an expectation and it’s important that we meet consumer demand,” Kerlin says.

Avocado Industry Council CEO Jen Scoular says the introduction of UHP technology by Fressure Foods adds value for New Zealand avocado growers by producing a high value product from process grade fruit. “Fressure Foods application of UHP technology supports industry goals to maximise the value returned to New Zealand avocado growers. As the industry body we promote consumption of locally grown avocados,” says Scoular.

Laurence says the introduction of UHP has already had a huge impact on the Fressure Foods business, allowing for the production of new avocado based products and creating 40 jobs at their plant in Pukekohe. “The technology has enabled us to produce both guacamole and avocado spread products which we distribute in New Zealand we well as export internationally to countries such as Australia, Japan, Hong Kong, Korea and Singapore.”

For more information visit www.fressurefoods.co.nz

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