European avocado prices drop as SH supply takes off
Peruvian and South African avocado shipments to Europe are picking up with importers reporting good prices but, as www.freshfruitportal.com discovered, there are some differing views from importers over quality.
A major U.K. importer said Peru's supply of avocados earlier this month reached insufficiently high average percentages of dry matter to ripen properly.
Greencell head of avocado procurement Ian Daniels, said the country's dry matter levels, which should hit at least 23%, were averaging 21%.
"They were trying to catch the high prices and identified early maturing high altitude areas, which generally are earlier maturers."
European wholesale prices for Hass from mid-March to mid-April were as high as EUR13-14 (US$17-18.5) per 4 kilogram box, although this has dropped to EUR9-10 (US$12-13) as supply levels have increased.
However, Dutch company Nature's Pride B. V.'s avocado import manager Theo Benjert said he was happy with what he had got so far from Peru.
"We have received three containers so far and the quality looks very nice. In general, we don't have many problems with Peru, whereas fruit from Spain we never know whether it has been in storage or not."
Benjert said the majority of his company's sales were to retailers in The Netherlands, Germany and Norway, and in July there would be a major marketing push of Peruvian avocados in British, French and German supermarkets.
AZ France fruit and avocado manager Anthony Langlais, said April was a transition period for Europe with Chilean and Israeli supplies petering out while Kenyan, Peruvian and South African supply start to kick in.
"The quality from South Africa and Peru is usually very good. We tend to have problems more with Kenya which is to do with their climatic conditions. Kenya is much rainer and black stains and fungus often develop during transportation."
Wholesale prices are expected to continue to drop in Europe within the next three weeks to around EUR8-9 (US$10.6-12) with prices for the green-skinned Fuerte variety as low as EUR4-5.50 (US$5.3-7.3 ) a box.
However, avocados have managed to fetch higher prices this season than last due to positive consumer perceptions that the fruit is worth buying.
Langlais said that avocados could no longer be described as exotic with Europeans eating the fruit since the late 1960s and currently benefiting from all round year supply.
Peruvian and South African avocados shipments will start climbing from May onwards and continue through to the end of September.