With Mexican supply dominant in the U.S. over the winter months, California-based Mission Produce has been selling most of its Chilean avocados in the European market where percentage growth in consumption is outstripping rates in North America.
But according to the company’s VP of marketing Robb Bertels, the Chilean deal is winding down now and some of the Mexican crop will be making the journey across the Atlantic Ocean to fill the market.
In the future however, this dynamic could be very different thanks to Mission’s extensive avocado plantings in the northern Peruvian region of Olmos, where a mega-irrigation project has channeled an Amazon River tributary to what was a very dry part of the country.
“One of the big projects we have in Peru is a ranch planted and growing in Olmos, so it gives us an earlier window to reach Europe,” Bertels told www.freshfruitportal.com during Fruit Logistica in Berlin.
“We’re thinking we’ll have fruit available from Peru as early as March, instead of later in May. That’ll give us that window to conserve the EU market as Chile winds down.
“I don’t know if we’ll have fruit in 2017 or not – we’ve put a lot of emphasis on Peru as a source for us, mainly because it gives us vertical integration – we control the production from the ground up, and don’t necessarily have to go and buy fruit from other growers,” he said, adding the Olmos-grown fruit would complement larger plantings further south in Trujillo.
The executive emphasized U.S. avocado consumption was still probably double the rate of Europe, but growth was strong in the EU.
“I think there’s a better understanding of the product. There are certain retailers that are effective with the product and now how to merchandise, they move it through their system and provide a good end product for the consumer.
“There’s more consistency and more availability from different source countries in the market here, so the consumer sees an avocado on a year-round basis. That drives consumption.”
He added growth in the Hass avocado market had been a critical part of the EU avocado market’s success.
“Greenskin avocados are still in the market but they’re fairly flat, so all of the growth in consumption is from Hass,” he said.
“It’s not a new variety, but it’s been a fairly recent introduction to the market here and they’re fairly receptive to the fruit.”