Colombia and India in line for avocado growth

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Colombia and India in line for avocado growth

From Colombia following in Peru's footsteps to India testing the waters, the opening day of the VII World Avocado Congress 2011 in Australia gave insights into what the global industry could expect in coming years.

International Avocado Society president elect Antony Allen told there has been a real 'buzz' surrounding the event in Cairns, with demand increasing and new production zones joining the party.

"The key message that’s come out of the first day is innovation and there’s a very positive growth buzz. Moving forward the expectations from the industry are all optimistic, for example in Peru they've gained access to the U.S. market so that's a good way for them to expand," he says.

He highglights the importance Colombia could play for the international avocado market in the future, following in the footsteps of Peru and their predecessor Chile.

"Colombia has been an avocado consumer for some time but with a very local variety focus, but in recent years they’ve changed to the Hass variety which allows for exports - they’ve got production growth early on," he says.

"From a perspective of South American countries, Chile started 15 years ago with Hass production, Peru’s probably 15 years behind them, while Colombia is another five years behind Peru. It’s almost like a chain reaction heading north."

He says an increase in Colombian volume would not be a threat to its southern competitors due to market windows and growing avocado consumption in the U.S. and Europe.

"I wouldn’t imagine there would be oversupply in the U.S. market in the near future as that market’s growing, and with Chile, Peru and then Colombia they have different windows – there’s overlap but that’s where the shipping data is key.

"What's unique about the avocado industry is that on a weekly basis there’s always good data about what’s been shipped to the U.S. and Europe, so you have a good situation of informed competition.

"The key thing is that for Chile, Mexico, Peru and hopefully Colombia, then Argentina, New Zealand, Australia, the U.S., South Africa, it’s all about marketing our product."

Allen calls Asia the 'next big Everest' for the industry that will take a concerted and patient effort of promotion, while early stage projects in India could help to supply that market.

"The buzz with India is about its large population and well-established agricultural and horticultural industries. What’s been discussed at the conference is they’re developing an avocado industry in the south of the country as they see the opportunities from their perspective if they can do it effectively.

"It’s their first time at a congress like this and it's given us great insights and information."

In other talks, Allen says New Zealand's industry presented a goal of 15 million trays by 2015, while University of California Riverside plant pathologist Greg Douhan discussed the possibility of building crop resistance to phytophtrora root rot.

Allen says more than 800 people have attended the event which lasts until Sep. 9.

"One of the great opportunities that the World Congress allows is the exchange of information between the Spanish and English speaking avocado world," he says.

"Everyone comes together, researchers, growers and marketers, all attend in large numbers."

Photo: VII World Avocado Congress

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