South African avocados set to command high export prices
The first shipments are expected to arrive in Europe early this week after a 14-16 day voyage with producers upbeat about demand and wholesale prices.
Westfalia avocado marketing manager Hans Boyum tells www.freshfruitportal.com with Israel finishing its season a little earlier than expected and Spain suffering from the cold European weather in early February, South African avocados were well placed to plug the gap.
"It's common knowledge the market is open and there's a lack of fruit around. We are seeing higher price levels both for Hass and the green varieties. There's been an upward trend in the last few weeks."
However, he refused to be drawn on exactly what wholesale prices were in the main markets of the U.K., Western and Eastern Europe.
Westfalia accounts for 45% of total exports from South Africa with other major shippers including Univeg, H L Hall & Sons and Afrupro Exporters.
This year export volumes are expected to show a 63% year-on-year rise at 48,000 metric tons (MT). Exports last year were a mere 27,600MT due to extensive hail storms.
South African Avocado Growers’ Association (SAAGA) chief executive officer Derek Donkin, says this season's crop is similar in yields to 2010 when 47,600MT of avocados were exported.
"We have had very good weather for picking and fruit growth in most regions, and because we have a heavy crop this goes hand in hand with good internal fruit quality."
Donkin says South African growers are busy expanding their plantations with 250 new hectares devoted to the fruit every year, describing the product as an "excellent" one with a good future.
The harvesting season started earlier this month with picking for export set to continue until the beginning of October.
Avocados are grown in the north eastern part of the country in the Limpopo and Mpumalanga provinces with Hass accounting for 56% of crops and the remainder made up of the green skin varieties of Fuerte, Pinkerton and Ryan.
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Photo: Avocado Growers Association and Industry Council