Mexico expects higher volumes of avocado shipments to Europe in 2011-12 -

Mexico expects higher volumes of avocado shipments to Europe in 2011-12

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Mexico expects higher volumes of avocado shipments to Europe in 2011-12

A bigger crop has meant Mexico will likely ship more avocadoes to Europe this season, but its overall export trend to the continent has been falling in recent years.

The Central American country's shipments are set to rise by at least 21% to between 4,000-5,000 metric tons (MT) in 2011-12, with a crop that is 30% larger this year.

Michoacán Association of Avocado Producers and Packer Exporters (APEAM) president Ricardo Vega, has told the country's presence in Europe has fallen significantly since the mid-90's.

"The season 1995-96 was when we sent the most avocadoes from Mexico to Europe with 33,000MT, and now we have been fallen to a bit less than 4,000MT last year," says Vega.

He says 8,000MT were sent to Europe in 2009-10 but volumes then fell dramatically to 3,300MT in 2010-11, in a market characterized by consignments due to lower demand. Mexico is more focused on fixed prices, which Vega says makes it more difficult to compete with countries like Chile, South Africa and Israel in Europe.

Vega believes the U.S. and Canada are Mexico's 'natural markets', while this would be further enforced if the euro were to weaken. The country's avocado season in North America starts with competition with Californian supply before Chilean exports enter later on.

"In the end prices have to balance at the international level, and then we can speak of an international avocado price," he says.

"For the season to the U.S. that recently finished now in June, a little more than 270,000MT were sent and to Canada it was around 23,000MT."

Promotion efforts in North America and Asia

Mexico has also broken new ground in terms of advertising in North America and Japan.

"Never in history has an agricultural product been advertised in Times Square, and now we have an advertisement for Mexican avocadoes there," says Vega.

"We are investing US$1 million in Japan and Canada each year in promotion and publicity. In the U.S. we are investing US$22 million annually. This has allowed avocado demand to grow very strongly in this market.

"Because we (Mexico) have a very strong market with a big demand for the fruit - it is the biggest consumer in the world - avocadoes have to be handled with a fixed price, which means traders and packers buy the fruit from producers at a pre-determined price so that you're already on the market with firm sales."

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