Netherlands: CBI works with Colombian agencies to improve avocado trade
The Dutch Center for the Promotion of Imports (CBI) is ramping up efforts to secure the best possible outcome for Colombian avocado industry standards, which are currently under review from the South American country's authorities.
As a form of soft diplomacy, the CBI works in developing countries to promote sustainable projects and trade prospects with the Netherlands, which in the case of fresh produce is a gateway to the rest of the European market.
CBI representative Arno van der Maden told www.freshfruitportal.com the center was working on several tropical fruits in Colombia, including the subtropical fruit avocados.
"On the national level in Colombia avocado is called a strategic product for export," van der Maden said, highlighting the Ministry of Commerce, Industry and Tourism (MinCIT) was working on several aspects of the crop to boost the sector.
"We're trying to work with them on three of those subjects which are basically related to quality, quality standards and the promotion of Colombian avocados in the European market.
"In practical terms it means that we’re trying to set up a training program for growers and our goal is not to train our growers that are in the program but to lift the Colombian sector as a whole."
To do this, the CBI is working with Colombia's National Training Service (SENA), which provides training to growers for free.
"We're trying to put experts together and decide what is the baseline for avocado growing – what are the good practices on fertilization, planting, trimming the trees and storage practices? And also on the packinghouse level, what processes should you have to get good quality avocados?
"Now they’re reviewing the national standard for avocados with a focus on the Hass avocados for export – our input is going to be that we’ll bring in some importers from Europe to say what sort of oil content is needed and issues like that...it's not only strict quality parameters technically speaking but also looking at the market.
"The third part would how can you tell the buyers in Europe that avocados from Colombia are trustworthy and consistent throughout the whole season?"
He said more communication was also needed between growers, exporters and importers, emphasizing the latter had the tough job of working out where to sell the product and get it pre-ripened for the best possible return.
"One of the main problems on avocados in Colombia is that it’s not very homogenous, so you can get one that’s very ripe, one that’s medium ripe and one that’s not very ripe in the same box, and that’s a nightmare for the importer," he said.
"In general consumption is increasing in the Netherlands. People see avocado as a healthy product, it’s almost a superfood. In my opinion, because the ready-to-eat product is getting better, people buy and come back to buy avocados again."