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Holy guacamole! New Zealand suffers avocado crime spree

A high demand and short supply of the green superfood have triggered an avocado-related crime wave in New Zealand.

As local prices for just one avocado have risen to as much as 6 New Zealand dollars ($4.20), organized gangs are targeting orchards in the fruit-producing North Island.

Local media report that there have been as many as 30 to 40 incidents this year as poachers use the cover of night to load up carloads of the fruit.

"Our season's been very short, last year we had a low supply, we're just starting the new season, we only eat avocados from New Zealand in New Zealand, so that real demand has created this very negative story and very negative activity," Avocado New Zealand chief executive Jen Scoular told Radio NZ.

Scouler said the stolen fruit would be unripe and it was likely sold at farmers markets and to small sushi shops.

Stuff.co.nz reports that the thieves' methods are now being discovered.

"We have reports of people driving utes [pickup trucks] into orchards and filling up the entire back tray, growers are finding blankets and duvets in their orchards with piles of avocados in them - thieves have picked and been interrupted."

"There is certainly a large-scale theft going on and the large numbers of it going on," said NZ Avocado Market Manager Bevan Jelley.


Growing popularity

New Zealand appears to have a growing love affair with the 'Alligator Pear'.

In a statement published last month, NZ Avocado Growers Association said domestic sales of in the 2015 -2016 season had risen 25 percent to top 41 million New Zealand dollars of sales.

The association says when you include exports, the figure rises to 134 million New Zealand dollars.