China to lift quarantine measures for key Chilean avocado regions
Avocado growers in central Chile have gained a breakthrough in the Chinese market, after authorities from the Asian country announced they would begin the legal process to lift the quarantine for fruit from two large production regions.
China's General Administration of Quality Supervision, Inspection and Quarantine (AQSIQ) said the two areas in question were the Metropolitan region and the V region (Valparaiso), which collectively produce some 85% of the Chile's avocado export volumes.
Although the quarantine due to be lifted was originally put in place to protect China against fruit fly, the pest is reported to still be present in the two regions.
Once the new measure comes into effect, avocados from the two key regions will be eligible for export to China without requiring cold treatment, which often damages to the fruit.
"It is hugely important for us that this be reverted," Chilean Hass Avocado Committee general manager Juan Enrique Lazo told www.freshfruitportal.com.
Although the export protocols were finalized in the middle of 2014, only the IV (Coquimbo) and VI (O'Higgins) regions were allowed to ship avocados as fruit fly had not been detected in those areas.
Lazo said the combination of this and the fact the protocols had been signed late in the season meant that last year only one container had been shipped to China.
"The fruit in the container was not subjected to cold treatment, as is required for other regions, and just had controlled atmosphere. This meant the fruit arrived in the best conditions," he said.
"The tropical avocado can be preserved at no less than 4-5°C (39-41°F), and so you cannot use cold treatment. It essentially kills the fruit. The same thing happens when you put a banana in a refrigerator - it turns brown inside.
"That's why it is so important that this requirement be lifted, because if not there is simply no way to export the fruit, and our main production regions are the ones affected."
While it remains unclear when the cold treatment requirement will be lifted, Lazo said he was confident everything would be finalized for the 2015/16 season, beginning in July.