2014 could be biggest campaign yet for South African avocados

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2014 could be biggest campaign yet for South African avocados

The South African Avocado Growers' Association (SAAGA) says it is possible the 2014 season will be the "biggest yet", after a successful 2013 export year of 11.6 million cartons.

Photo: www.shutterstock.com

Photo: www.shutterstock.com

In an annual report, SAAGA chairman Mark Baker said it was positive to see such a strong volume in an "off" year of the alternate bearing process.

"Looking back over historic exported volumes, South Africa has always experienced noticable on/off year scenarios which is not good for marketing initiatives and is most straining on farmers’ sustainability and cash flows," Baker said.

"t is most encouraging to see the band between on /off has reduced. We would like to believe that improved orchard practices, new plantings and focus on orchard productivity is paying dividends."

Despite good indications on the volume front, cost hikes above inflation for electricity, fuel and labor have affected South African growers' competitiveness. Baker added growers experienced mid-season pressure from Peru, which doubled its shipments to the European Union against projected values.

In order to give growers more options, SAAGA spent 37% of its 2013 budget on market development work and promotions, while a further ZAR120,000 (US$11,214) was spent on addressing the technical issues required for access to new markets such as the U.S. and Japan.

He said additional work was also carried out on the host status of various avocados to the invasive fruit fly, Bactrocera invadens.

"The importance of market access into countries like USA, China, Japan needs to be fast tracked therefore this sits high on the agenda of the utilization of available funds," Baker said.

"Sufficient phytosanitary research has now been done to meet the requirements of a number of potential export markets. However, the government to government processes need to run their course before access is gained to new markets."

While the SAAGA supports the inter-governmental process, it believes it would be prudent to invest in political lobbying to fast-track it.

"Gaining access to new markets such as the USA will have a greater impact on the profitability than low level investments in generic market development campaigns (promotion of consumer awareness and trade participation) in the EU."




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