Growing Innovation: Issue 10, June 29, 2016

Avocado Tom is a smash hit

Tom Silver, Laurel Park, NSW


Tom Silver spent his school years working on his parents’ Alstonville avocado farm, which he took over in 2000 after completing university.

His family had lived in Sydney until 1987 when they purchased Laurel Park and seized the opportunity for a tree change.

Annually, Tom produces about 100 tonnes of avocados from 10 hectares of crops and also grows macadamias.

“I am a sole trader selling avocados as “Avocado Tom” to independent retailers, cafes, restaurants and food service wholesalers in the northern rivers area of New South Wales.”

Tom said the avocado industry was progressive and dynamic, much like the fruit. “It combines hard work, science, ecological principles, more hard work and a bit of luck.

The industry has always been strategic in its approach, right back to being one of the first horticulture industries to put an effective levy system in place and always tries to identify potential problems before they become actual problems.

We share the strong common goals of higher farm gate returns and good industry relations.”

Tom’s passion for the industry has extended to him taking a Director’s role on the Avocados Australia Limited board.

“I have found my time on the Avocados Australia board enjoyable and invaluable,” he said. It is a great organisation, representing a great industry and has allowed me to meet many growers and industry stakeholders both nationally and internationally. It brings with it a sense of being part of a community, which I’m passionate about.”

Tom said he also enjoyed trying out new systems to see what worked best for the farm. “Avocados are a difficult crop to grow, especially in our high rainfall environment,” he said.

Therefore, our farm has benefitted from Australian research since the early days, which focussed on combatting phytophthora and fruit rots.

He added Avocados Australia’s Qualicado workshops which emphasised quality, had also been of great benefit to the farm.

“These workshops have been about recognising the importance of the entire supply chain, from the grower to the packer, transporter, handler, ripener, store manager and employee, right to the consumer.

Understanding this supply chain, sound research and development and quality targeted extension are paramount to our industry.”

Tom said avocado marketing had inspired an increase in consumption and farm gate returns.

“The use of traditional media and evolving digital and social media has been excellent.

This investment, as well as strategic investment in consumer research and areas such as food service and medical and scientific research, has brought about exceptional outcomes.”

Tom said increasing domestic consumption and developing export markets to cope with massive projected production increases were the biggest challenges facing the avocado industry.

“Further challenges around fruit quality, productivity and production costs will also need to be addressed.”

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