Rise in avocado prices sees spike in thefts across New Zealand orchards

A rise in avocado prices has seen an increase in the amount of thefts and orchardists are doing all they can to prevent people from stealing their fruit.

Avocado file image.
Avocado file image. Source: Wikimedia Commons, Susan Slater

According to the New Zealand Avocado Growers Association, harvest volumes this month were down to around half that for the previous season. This decrease affected the average retail prices of avocados, which may be causing an increase in thefts.

Statistics New Zealand said avocado prices rose 37 percent in May to record levels after a small harvest.

The average price for a 200g avocado rose to $5.06 in May 2018, up 37 per cent from $3.69 in April 2018. The price in May this year, up 50 per cent from $3.38 in May 2017, is the highest ever for avocados since records began.

Avocado Industry Council chief executive Jen Scoular said, "We are providing signage to say that avocado theft is punishable, trying to prevent it from happening in the first place."

She said the orchards that are being targeted are the most accessible from the road or easy to drive into.

Ms Scoular said in some cases vans and trucks driving into orchards just "wack" the avocados from the tree onto a blanket or duvet cover and put it into the back of the vehicle and take away a couple of crates full.

"It's not good enough, they're invading the privacy of people's livelihoods.  It's a personal issue as well as a financial one."

Chief executive of produce company Seeka, Michael Frank said there are growing incidents of avocado thefts. 

He said what they are doing now to try and catch the thieves is deploying detection cameras in the orchards to stop them from stealing.  It will also give the police evidence.

Mr Frank said thieves are coming in at night and at times when there is no one in the orchard, walking in with bags, stealing the fruit, putting it into their vehicles and then disappearing.  

"The areas where we have experienced the most theft is in the mid north and the Far North  (Northland) particularly near Houhora."

Western Bay of Plenty Senior Sergeant Mark Pakes said, "Fruit thefts cause great distress to the orchardists who rely on their crops for income, which is why we want all the information we can get on suspicious behaviour in rural areas."

He said people should be cautious if they see avocados being sold at a discounted rate from a questionable source.

By 1 NEWS intern Grace Stanton 


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Watch: 'Cantankerous old' rescue dog's escape down Bay of Islands thoroughfare prompts laughter around the world

A rescue dog named Lily from the Bay of Islands has become an overnight internet sensation after her wily escape down Kawakawa’s main street – with a giant flag in tow — put smiles on tens of thousands of Facebook users' faces.

CCTV footage of the freedom-seeking furball's runner — accompanied by Yakety Sax, the song made famous by the Benny Hill Show — has been viewed more than 320,000 times in the first 16 hours since it was posted last night.

Lucie Green, a volunteer with Bay of Islands Animal Rescue, was taking the basset hound for a walk last week when she decided to stop at a local business to buy Lily a treat.

But the dog wasn't interested in waiting to see what surprise might be in store, instead bolting despite being tied to the large Coca-Cola flag.

"It wasn't until I saw the video that I realised I had charged into oncoming traffic, which is quite alarming, but I just wanted to get hold of her before someone hit her," Ms Green told the New Zealand Herald today, describing the nine-year-old as a "cantankerous old lady".

"After taking her home I realised I still had to return the flag and pay for my sausage," she added. "I couldn't believe it."

Ms Green changed her Facebook profile picture to show Lilly late last night as the video, posted by user James Mcdonald, quickly started to take on a life of its own.

Thousands of people have since commented on the video, with many of them admiring the dog’s spirit.

"I'm laughing my guts out it's so funny," wrote Facebook user Annie Hicks.

"Crack up go doggie," added user Katie Bennett.

The basset hound, named Lily, was tied to a large flag outside a dairy. So she took the flag with her on her wild escape. Source: Facebook/James Mcdonald


Japan 2019 Rugby World Cup tickets to go on sale, All Blacks fans urged to get in quick

All Blacks fans are urged to get in quick if they are to secure seats at the 2019 Rugby World Cup in Japan, with officials warning tickets will sell out fast one year out from the tournament.

All Blacks captain Richie McCaw holds aloft the William Webb Ellis Cup after winning Rugby World Cup Final. New Zealand All Blacks v Australia Wallabies, Twickenham Stadium, London, England. Saturday 31 October 2015. Copyright Photo: Andrew Cornaga / www.Photosport.nz
All Blacks captain Richie McCaw holds aloft the William Webb Ellis Cup after winning Rugby World Cup Final. Source: Photosport

Half a million tickets have already been pre-sold with tickets set to be open for sale to the public at 1pm today (NZ time).

Head of the Rugby World Cup Alan Gilpin believes there will be an "unprecedented demand" for tickets which involves the home team, Japan's Brave Blossoms and the top tier nations.

"All the matches involving Japan, definitely all the matches involving New Zealand... England, Australia are experiencing high demand and we would expect they will be sold out very quickly," said Gilpin.

The All Blacks begin their title defence against the Springboks in Yokohama, the evening after the tournament opener between Japan and Russia in Tokyo on September 20, 2019.

Adult ticket prices are expected to range from ¥10,000 - ¥40,000 (NZD $136-$544) while tickets to the final on November 2 to cost anywhere between ¥25,000 - ¥100,000 (NZD $340-$1361).

"When you bring Rugby World Cup to a place like Japan, you hope that people will get behind it and the demand will be there – and it really has been," said Gilpin.

"It's a fantastic story for the event and a good message of confidence for the organising committee."

Government moves to make pay equity claims easier - 'We must continue to close gap'

The Government want to make it easier for workers to lodge pay equity claims, introducing a proposed law on the 125th anniversary women first got the vote in New Zealand. 

Workplace Relations Minister Iain Lees Galloway said today he was proud to take "the next step to address historic inequities in pay for women". 

He said The Equal Pay Amendment Bill was intended to make the process of making pay equity claims simplified and more accessible.

Acting Women's Minister Eugenie Sage said the bill was "one piece of the puzzle" in striving to close the gender pay gap. 

"Discrimination has led to lower pay for many female-dominated industries, despite having similar working conditions and skill requirements to comparable male-dominated occupations."

Earlier this year, National MP Denise Lee's Members' Bill on pay equity was voted down.

It intended to "eliminate and prevent discrimination on the basis of sex" in employment pay, and to also "promote enduring settlement of claims relating to sex discrimination on pay equity grounds". 

Labour MP Megan Woods saying there were "some very simple mechanistic reasons contained within this legislation why that would not occur", and fellow MP Jan Tinetti saying "this bill does put things backwards for pay equity". Labour, National and NZ First voted against it. 

Shot of New Zealand twenty dollars.
New Zealand $20 notes (file picture). Source: istock.com