AS the world continues to delight in smashing its avocado, Victoria could emerge as the newest growth area for the highly sought-after fruit.
In fact, industry observers have even noted cases of stonefruit growers abandoning their traditional crops in favour of the fashionable food, a switch many in horticulture may never had thought conceivable.
It's part of the avocado's ascension from "poor man's butter" to food of the elite café class, families and super health conscious.
Australia produced 66,000 tonnes of avocados in 2016/17 and the Australian crop is forecast to reach a record of 75,000 tonnes in 2017/18.
Chief executive officer of the a grower-owned marketing and supply chain business, The Avolution and former Avocados Australia CEO, Antony Allen, says demand continues to outpace supply which is a delightful problem for any industry.
Mr Allen said the retail, food processing and dining sectors have all contributed to the rise of avocados.
The increased popularity of sushi and Mexican food within Australia has had a significant impact on both the consumption and familiarity with the fruit.
Backing that has been the café food culture and the much spoken-of, smashed avocado phenomenon.
There has been no slowing at the grower level either.
Mr Allen said the past decade has been about getting more trees in the ground but even as those plantings have progressively come online, the intentions to meet demand have fallen short.
"It just never really pans out," Mr Allen said.
Plantings in many states, particularly Western Australia and Queensland, continue to see "hundreds of hectares per year" planted to avocado trees, according to Mr Allen.
Queensland (42,000t) and WA (13,000t) continued to produce a majority of the crop for 2016/17.
The Tamborine/Northern Rivers area produced 1500t, Central New South Wales produced 5500t and the Tristate area (parts of Victoria, New South Wales and South Australia) pumped out 3500t.
While this has been supported with nurseries ramping up their seedling output, the consumer demand is now echoing down the production line with a significant waiting list for trees.
It's one of the corners to a three-pointed anchor which could hold the industry back with the other major hurdles being access to good quality soil and water.
"Nobody wants to invest in mediocre land which doesn't have the potential," Mr Allen said.
"In poor soil, you may only produce half what a premium orchard does."
This has caused both investors and growers to look at all corners of Australia for the next avocado hotspot, including Victoria.
Mr Allen said the current trend for serious growers and investors is to thoroughly do their homework on an area, then make a substantial planting of about 5000 trees or so, rather than dabble in experimental blocks.
He said there were a number of established Victorian avocado growers who have made the most of the gap between the east and west coast supplies.
"It is possible but how they approach things is very different," Mr Allen said.
"It's fine to grow a nice looking avocado tree but it's not a simple tree to crop. You can't sell the leaves."
Temperature mitigation, among other things, is one of the major factors Victorian growers need to address.
This is made additionally difficult with a lack of ready-access to experienced agronomists in the area with avocado knowledge.
As the immediate past president of the International Avocado Society, Mr Allen's international dealings have given him a view into how the rest of the world is seeing Australian avocados, particularly considering the idea of smashed avocado originated down under.
"There is definitely interest from investors from all points of the planet," Mr Allen said.
He said while other countries had lower costs of production, particularly through cheap labour, potential investors are drawn to Australia's economic and political stability.
THE story of smashed avocado is considered something of an unplanned marketing lucky-strike within Australian agriculture.
Mr Allen said the promotion and buzz around it has a "massive worth" to the industry.
Apart from economist Bernard Salt's unintentional promotion of the fruit by suggesting millennials would be able to afford home ownership if they gave up their café-style smashed avocado, Mr Allen said it had gone beyond that with avocadoes being used as advertising tools by such companies as Vodafone.
"When you've got a product like this that people and brands want to align themselves with, you know there's worth there," he said.
"It's that idea and passion people have for them that they are willing to defend them."
Australians ate about 86,000 tonnes of avocados in the past 12 months, cementing their place amongst the highest consumers of avocados in the English-speaking world.
Current Avocados Australia CEO, John Tyas, said based on the latest industry figures, Australians ate about 3.5kg of avocado per person in 2016/17, a significant jump from 3.2kg/person the previous year.
Mr Tyas said the increased consumption was driven by avocados making their way into avo lovers’ shopping trolleys more regularly.
“People now know ways to use avocados at every meal, from the smashed avo at breakfast to avocado chocolate mousse for dessert, and that means they’re also buying avocados more often,” he said.
“It’s also great news for farmers, as production levels are expected to continue to increase to more than 100,000 tonnes nationally within the next eight years.
Mr Allen said he didn't think Mr Salt could replicate the impact his comments had with any other product.
"They (millennials) are saying, we know what they cost but don't tell us we can't have them," Mr Allen said.
He said the industry, particularly the marketing arm of Avocados Australia, has contemplated whether the smashed avocado trend had a lifespan and what would happen after that.
"But if you look at it, China hasn't come onboard the smashed avocado idea yet, nor has India, and Europe is still only halfway onto the bandwagon so it's got a while to go yet," he said.
"It's crazy when you think about it."