The 10th World Avocado Congress was a smash hit in Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland.
Auckland delivers smashing global avocado congress
- The 10th World Avocado Congress
- When: 2-5 April 2023
- Venue: Aotea Centre – Te Pokapū
- Where: Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland, New Zealand
- Delegates: 1160 from 33 countries
New Zealand’s strong agritech industry, horticulture sector and destination appeal attracted a delegation far exceeding expectations, with 1160 attendees including 750 international delegates from as far afield as Mexico, Peru and South Africa.
“What an incredible congress it was! Feedback from the event has been phenomenal, everyone in the avocado industry came together, to share, to collaborate and to collectively influence positive growth of the whole sector,” says 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 $1 billion industry by 2040. Delegates learned so much from this congress, it’s professional development you cannot get anywhere else.”
The event kicked off with buses taking 760 delegates to 10 different field days across two days in south Auckland, Northland and Bay of Plenty, to visit orchards and packhouses, and hear science presentations from Plant and Food Research. With 35% of delegates listing agritech as a reason for being at the congress, it also provided an opportunity to see 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 kicked off with a moving opening ceremony with a traditional welcome from local iwi (tribe) Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, plus a Māori cultural performance to immerse guests in Aotearoa New Zealand’s culture. New Zealand’s Minister of Customs, Minister of Food Safety and Associate Minister of Agriculture opened proceedings, encouraging attendees to celebrate the industry’s successes and collaborate on future opportunities for growth.
New knowledge for New Zealand
The programme featured eight keynote speakers, panel discussions, and more than 130 presentations from speakers representing 16 countries, on topics from science in avocados to consumer marketing, to climate change, technology and sustainability initiatives from around the world.
“To have that new knowledge being shared in New Zealand adds real value to many sectors,” Scoular adds.
In line with the needs of the audience, sessions were translated in both Spanish and English. Booths from the nine sponsors and an additional 26 exhibitors across three levels of the venue provided a lively atmosphere to keep delegates circulating and networking.
The conference’s theme of “respectful; respect for people, respect for the environment, respect for our future” was echoed in its organisation. Conference operations were all run by members of environmental responsibility certifier Toitū Envirocare – venue Aotea Centre, regional body Tātaki Auckland Unlimited, PCO The Conference Company and caterer Urban Gourmet. 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.
Scoular adds that delegates were encouraged to explore Auckland and make the most of down time, with the congress app setting out the walkability between the venue, hotels and 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.”
A lasting positive impact
The conference delivered a $2.6 million boost to the visitor economy for Auckland and New Zealand, but its legacy will extend far further.
The event 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.
Tourism New Zealand Chief Executive René de Monchy said: “World Avocado Congress is a great example of the multiple benefits an international conference brings to New Zealand. The international visitors explored New Zealand, delivering economic value to our tourism sector. They also explored commercial opportunities and research and collaboration possibilities which will have long-term positive effects for our horticulture and agritech sectors.”
Tātaki Auckland Unlimited Director of Investment and Industry, Pam Ford, added the conference offered growth potential for the New Zealand businesses involved.
“The World Avocado Congress allowed us to showcase the strength of Tāmaki Makaurau Auckland’s agritech sector to the world, connecting our local researchers, growers, and sustainability experts with international delegates. Feedback from the Tātaki Auckland Unlimited team who attended the conference was glowing – the connections they made at the conference provide great opportunities for collaboration and exploring long-term sector development outcomes.”
Leveraging the opportunities
A social highlight of the conference was the sold out Gala Dinner at Cordis Auckland. A number of other additional 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
- The Boards of both New Zealand Avocados and Australian Avocados meeting up
- IFPA A-NZ hosting a networking function with Cathy Burns, their US CEO, and one of the keynote speakers.
In addition, New Zealand Avocado received an impressive amount of media coverage, with Scoular covering 10 interviews before midday on the first day across print and digital.
Scoular said: “Learning, sharing and understanding our global customers, networks and scientists – this congress has the ability to unlock amazing and diverse opportunities. We know our sponsors, exhibitors, speakers and delegates will now leverage that opportunity.”
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 of Gold sponsors, 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.”
TNZ is a PCOA destination business partner