Spanish avocados approved for U.S. import

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Spanish avocados approved for U.S. import

The U.S. Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) has approved Spanish avocados for import into the United States.paltas_21442027

The approval includes commercial consignments from mainland Spain, excluding the Balearic and Canary islands.

The decision comes after an APHIS proposal last January to establish trade conditions to begin import of the Spanish fruit. The resulting phytosanitary protocol focuses in large part on minimizing the risk of spreading Ceratitis capitata or the Mediterranean fruit fly.

Import procedure will require registration of production locations such as packinghouses, pest monitoring, implementation of sanitary practices, chemical and biological control measures and phytosanitary treatment.

Avocados other than Hass will be treated for fruit fly either before departure or upon arrival to the United States.

In response to concerns over cold treatment after arrival, APHIS clarified that no treatments will be permitted in Florida, where pest concerns had been expressed.

"We expect post-arrival cold treatment will be infrequent since the industry norm is cold treatment prior to departure or in transit. Further, the regulations will continue to prohibit cold treatment after arrival in Florida," APHIS said.

If any instance of C. capitata is detected during post-harvest inspections of non-Hass avocados, the place of production will undergo immediate suspension until further investigation has been conduction by APHIS and Spanish authorities.

Spain expects to export 260MT of fresh avocado to the United States a year. According to APHIS, this equates to 0.07% of net U.S. imports of the fruit or 0.05% of the net U.S. supply.

Several commenters expressed concern to APHIS on the economic impact of relying on imported avocados rather than domestic supply.

"One commenter stated that allowing avocado imports instead of supporting the domestic avocado industry is short-sighted and counter-productive, and noted that domestic growers have recently been challenged by both natural factors (such as cold, wind, heat, fire, and lack of water) as well as market conditions," APHIS said.

The service indicated that such concerns fall outside of its authority.

Although the U.S. ranks as one of the world's top avocado producers, it is also the largest import market for the fruit.

"The gap between U.S. imports and U.S. exports has widened substantially. The average annual value of U.S. avocado imports, 2008-2010, was nearly $622 million, compared to average annual exports valued at less than $16 million," APHIS said.

Consumption of avocado in the U.S. has risen substantially in recent years. As of 2010, consumption had reached 1.86 kilograms per capita, up from 1 kilogram in 2000.


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