We Gave The World Avocado Toast, Now Australia Has Too Many Avocados
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We Gave The World Avocado Toast, Now Australia Has Too Many Avocados

A glut has the nation rethinking ways to serve the green fruit.

By Mike Cherney
Wed, Aug 24, 2022 9:49amGrey Clock 3 min

Suzanne James has big dreams for one of her favourite fruits.

Avocado smoothies. Avocado cake. Avocado chocolate mousse. She tried the avocado pickle recipe—vinegar, chilli, sugar—but her family didn’t love it.

Australia, credited with spreading avocado on toast around the world, is creaking under a mountain of the green, pear-shaped fruit. Farmers in past years had planted thousands of avocado trees to keep up with demand, which, turns out, hasn’t grown nearly as fast as supply.

Prices in Australia are at rock bottom. Some of the fruit is left to rot. Yet the tough times for avocado farmers have yielded a bounty for avocado lovers.

“I don’t remember ever seeing them this cheap,” said Ms. James, a 51-year-old nurse. She used to buy two avocados a week. Now she doesn’t hesitate to buy three or four. Australia’s avocado deflation encourages more culinary experiments at a time when other groceries are getting more expensive.

Average single avocado prices at some Australian grocery stores are down about 30% compared with a few years ago. Grocery chains recently sold avocados for 1 Australian dollar each, equivalent to about 70 cents.

The country’s surplus is by one estimate enough to provide every resident with 22 avocados for the year. An advertising and social-media campaign is trying to persuade residents to eat more of them.

An industry-sponsored contest invited people to post pictures of avocado creations on Instagram and Facebook for a prize of $1,000. Avocado spaghetti, avocado parfait and an avocado face mask were among the winners.

Another competition aimed to find the best avocado toast at the nation’s cafes. And a branded Instagram account sends out new recipes every few days—creations such as grilled avocados and chocolate avocado cupcakes.

“I was a bit sceptical on avocado fries, but I was quickly turned around,” said Stuart Tobin, a creative director at TBWA Sydney, the ad agency that developed the avocado marketing campaign. “They actually got crunchy, but creamy in the middle.”

Mexico is the world’s leading producer and supplies most of the U.S. market. Americans started buying more avocados after seeing 1992 Super Bowl ads that featured guacamole, said Jeff Miller, author of “Avocado: A Global History” and an associate professor of hospitality management at Colorado State University.

“Everybody’s growing them,” Dr. Miller said. “Until fairly recently, they were just like money in the bank,” he added.

In Australia, Bill Granger, owner of a chain of restaurants and cafes, put avocado toast on his menu in the 1990s and got credit for making the dish popular. Avocado toast is now offered at virtually every Australian cafe. (Some amateur food historians wave around references to putting avocado on toast in Australian newspaper articles of the 1920s.)

In 2016, Australian columnist Bernard Salt in a satirical piece wrote that the reason young people couldn’t afford houses was because they were spending their cash on pricey avocado toast, sparking a national debate.

A TV ad during the Tokyo Olympics last year featured comedian Nazeem Hussain discussing how the avocado—which has a green and gold hue similar to the colours of Australia national team jerseys—is the “official, unofficial sponsor of pretty much everything Australian, ever.”

Australian avocado growers aren’t allowed to sell their fruit in the U.S. Even if they could, they would find Mexico a formidable competitor. The growers are trying to sell more to countries in Asia, including Japan.

In a local push, grower Tom Silver, who likes his avocados with a beer, said he has been trying to persuade his cafe and restaurant customers to sell avocado smoothies, which are popular in some Southeast Asian countries.

Mr. Silver said he hasn’t had much luck, maybe because his preferred recipe calls for ice cream. “It’s not particularly healthy,” he said. “The avocado is the most healthy thing in it.”

John Tyas, chief executive of the industry association Avocados Australia, said part of the strategy to sell more avocados is to get consumers to eat avocados not just for breakfast or in summer salads, but also in desserts.

He is investigating another avenue to ease the avocado glut: An attempt at the Guinness World Record for the largest serving of guacamole. The Guinness benchmark is a 3700kg tub of guac made in Mexico.

“We’ve got some ideas about how we might be able to do that, possibly leasing some facilities at a dairy because they’ve got big vats,” he said. “Then we’ve got to find enough people to eat it.”

Reprinted by permission of The Wall Street Journal, Copyright 2021 Dow Jones & Company. Inc. All Rights Reserved Worldwide. Original date of publication: August 23, 2022



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New York Watch Auctions Record Uptick in Sales in the Face of Market Slowdown
By LAURIE KAHLE
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Luxury watch collectors showed ongoing strong demand for Patek Philippe, growing interest in modern watches and a preference for larger case sizes and leather straps at the June watch sales in New York, according to an analysis of the major auctions.

Independent and neo-vintage categories, meanwhile, experienced declines in total sales and average prices, said the report from  EveryWatch, a global online platform for watch information. Overall, the New York auctions achieved total sales of US$52.27 million, a 9.87% increase from the previous year, on the sale of 470 lots, reflecting a 37% increase in volume. Unsold rates ticked down a few points to 5.31%, according to the platform’s analysis.

EveryWatch gathered data from official auction results for sales held in New York from June 5 to 10 at Christie’s, Phillips, and Sotheby’s. Limited to watch sales exclusively, each auction’s data was reviewed and compiled for several categories, including total lots, sales and sold rates, highest prices achieved, performance against estimates, sales trends in case materials and sizes as well as dial colors, and more. The resulting analysis provides a detailed overview of market trends and performance.

The Charles Frodsham Pocket watch sold at Phillips for $433,400.

“We still see a strong thirst for rare, interesting, and exceptional watches, modern and vintage alike, despite a little slow down in the market overall,” says Paul Altieri, founder and CEO of the California-based pre-owned online watch dealer BobsWatches.com, in an email. “The results show that there is still a lot of money floating around out there in the economy looking for quality assets.”

Patek Philippe came out on top with more than US$17.68 million on the sale of 122 lots. It also claimed the top lot: Sylvester Stallone’s Patek Philippe GrandMaster Chime 6300G-010, still in the sealed factory packaging, which sold at Sotheby’s for US$5.4 million, much to the dismay of the brand’s president, Thierry Stern . The London-based industry news website WatchPro estimates the flip made the actor as much as US$2 million in just a few years.

At Christie’s, the top lot was a Richard Mille Limited Edition RM56-02 AO Tourbillon Sapphire
Richard Mille

“As we have seen before and again in the recent Sotheby’s sale, provenance can really drive prices higher than market value with regards to the Sylvester Stallone Panerai watches and his standard Patek Philippe Nautilus 5711/1a offered,” Altieri says.

Patek Philippe claimed half of the top 10 lots, while Rolex and Richard Mille claimed two each, and Philippe Dufour claimed the No. 3 slot with a 1999 Duality, which sold at Phillips for about US$2.1 million.

“In-line with EveryWatch’s observation of the market’s strong preference for strap watches, the top lot of our auction was a Philippe Dufour Duality,” says Paul Boutros, Phillips’ deputy chairman and head of watches, Americas, in an email. “The only known example with two dials and hand sets, and presented on a leather strap, it achieved a result of over US$2 million—well above its high estimate of US$1.6 million.”

In all, four watches surpassed the US$1 million mark, down from seven in 2023. At Christie’s, the top lot was a Richard Mille Limited Edition RM56-02 AO Tourbillon Sapphire, the most expensive watch sold at Christie’s in New York. That sale also saw a Richard Mille Limited Edition RM52-01 CA-FQ Tourbillon Skull Model go for US$1.26 million to an online buyer.

Rolex expert Altieri was surprised one of the brand’s timepieces did not crack the US$1 million threshold but notes that a rare Rolex Daytona 6239 in yellow gold with a “Paul Newman John Player Special” dial came close at US$952,500 in the Phillips sale.

The Crown did rank second in terms of brand clout, achieving sales of US$8.95 million with 110 lots. However, both Patek Philippe and Rolex experienced a sales decline by 8.55% and 2.46%, respectively. The independent brand Richard Mille, with US$6.71 million in sales, marked a 912% increase from the previous year with 15 lots, up from 5 lots in 2023.

The results underscored recent reports of prices falling on the secondary market for specific coveted models from Rolex, Patek Philippe, and Audemars Piguet. The summary points out that five top models produced high sales but with a fall in average prices.

The Rolex Daytona topped the list with 42 appearances, averaging US$132,053, a 41% average price decrease. Patek Philippe’s Nautilus, with two of the top five watches, made 26 appearances with an average price of US$111,198, a 26% average price decrease. Patek Philippe’s Perpetual Calendar followed with 23 appearances and a US$231,877 average price, signifying a fall of 43%, and Audemars Piguet’s Royal Oak had 22 appearances and an average price of US$105,673, a 10% decrease. The Rolex Day Date is the only watch in the top five that tracks an increase in average price, which at US$72,459 clocked a 92% increase over last year.

In terms of categories, modern watches (2005 and newer) led the market with US$30 million in total sales from 226 lots, representing a 53.54% increase in sales and a 3.78% increase in average sales price over 2023. Vintage watches (pre-1985) logged a modest 6.22% increase in total sales and an 89.89% increase in total lots to 169.

However, the average price was down across vintage, independent, and neo-vintage (1990-2005) watches. Independent brands saw sales fall 24.10% to US$8.47 million and average prices falling 42.17%, while neo-vintage watches experienced the largest decline in sales and lots, with total sales falling 44.7% to US$8.25 million, and average sales price falling 35.73% to US$111,000.

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This stylish family home combines a classic palette and finishes with a flexible floorplan

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Just 55 minutes from Sydney, make this your creative getaway located in the majestic Hawkesbury region.

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