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Peru: Early season avocados to ramp up in 2017, says ProHass president

Exponential growth in avocado production out of Peru is no secret in the global produce industry, but the head of grower association ProHass says the country’s earlier production regions will start to make their presence felt this year.

ProHass’ relatively new president Daniel Bustamante, who assumed the role in November last year, told Fresh Fruit Portal it has historically been the case that Peru supplies the European market from May to August-September.

“Today because of the new production areas in Peru, the supply is starting to grow significantly in the months of March and April until September,” he said during Fruit Logistica in Berlin.

“We’re in the process of increasing our supply window by two months – Lambayeque and Olmos are the most relevant.

“And in the Selva (jungle) both in the south and centrally, they also have an earlier production starting even in February sometimes.”

He said the trend was coming to the fore at a time when Peru too was seeing bullish opportunities for growth in Europe.

“I think it’s the first year where we’ll see a demonstration of this expansion which is going to become more and more representative.

“The European market is growing at a rate of 20-30% per year, thanks in part to the good quality delivered by different origins which promote a lot of avocado consumption,” he said, adding in recent years Peru had established itself as the biggest supplier to the market.

“The most emblematic case is the German market, which a few years ago was used to eating green skins. This has been changing with consumption of Hass avocados growing.”

He said there were still European countries like Italy where people preferred green skin avocados, but there was a switch to Hass underway across the continent.

“No less important is that we are getting penetration little by little in the countries of Eastern Europe. With some clients, we see important growth – in Hungary, Poland and the Czech Republic.

“This will widen the European market in an important way. Europe as a whole has more people than the United States.”

Aside from Europe, ProHass is also focused further development in the incipient Chinese market, while also making the most of the new market openings for Peruvian avocados in Argentina, Colombia and India.

“The Chinese market is growing a lot but from a very small base, so the total volume is still small,” Bustamante said.

“The potential is enormous – the great challenges we have for China are firstly logistical – in our case, it takes a bit more than 30 days to get to the market, so it’s approaching the limit of arriving with a quality product.

“And second is the effort of education because the Chinese are asking for certain specific sizes which limit the attention we can give to the market…we need to widen the range of sizes used, but what is fundamental for developing the avocado market is ripening. That is what will really trigger consumption.”

The proximity of markets like Argentina and Colombia are attractive to the Peruvian growers, but Bustamante emphasised a need for caution.

“Argentina is a market that has a good growth potential – it has been supplied by Chile and its local production. Because of its proximity, it’s attractive for us, but we have to supply responsibly to avoid an oversupply of product.

“Colombia is an attractive case because Colombians mainly consume green skins and local varieties…it’s the third-largest country in population in South America, and they have a significant culture of local consumption.

“The development of the Hass industry in Colombia will go hand-in-hand with the development of local consumption, which will convert it in a very attractive market which is complementary to the Peruvian supply.”

Bustamante noted the good work the New Zealand industry, in particular, had done in developing the Indian avocado market, but for Peru, the issue of distance would make success more challenging.

“For India, there are logistical problems…unfortunately, we don’t have the transit times to reach India,” he said.

“I think it’ll be some time before we can supply and develop better in the market, which will be complemented with some sea freight shipment trials and new technologies that are in the market for ripening the fruit, and complemented with some airfreight shipments so they can get to know avocados.

“The most important is that the consumption experience is good. It’ll be with airfreight shipments firstly so they can see what it is to have avocados,” he said, adding Peru would send its first avocados to India in May.

Source: Fresh Fruit Portal

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