Developing story: Mission Produce partner Cartama and Westsole to send first U.S.-bound Colombian avocados -

Developing story: Mission Produce partner Cartama and Westsole to send first U.S.-bound Colombian avocados

Following the news this morning that Westsole was gearing up for its first exports of Colombian Hass avocados to the United States, it has come to light that Mission Produce partner Cartama is also sending its first shipments this week to the newly opened market. 

The heads of Westsole (Pedro Aguilar, second from left) and Cartama (Ricardo Uribe, second from right) were present at a ceremony to celebrate the historic milestone today.

Cartama CEO Ricardo Uribe told Fresh Fruit Portal 18 metric tons (MT) of avocados were currently in a closed container in the Port of Cartagena and were ready to set sail tomorrow, with an expected arrival at Port Everglades, Florida on Monday, Nov. 6.

From there the fruit will be delivered to Mission’s Atlanta forward distribution center.

"Being the first to import Colombian fruit to the U.S. reinforces Mission’s global footprint and leadership in the avocado category," said Mission's senior vice president of global sourcing, Jim Donovan.

"It’s crucial for Mission to capitalize on all available sources to serve our growing customer base. Our partnership with Cartama in Colombia has been in the works for a number of years, and when this opportunity finally came to fruition, we were ready.”

Uribe was upbeat following today's ceremony for this historic moment.

"We are in Cartagena. We just finished a celebration so that effectively two containers will set sail; one is from Westsole and the other is for Mission Produce with the avocados grown by the producer Hasspacol," Uribe said. 

He said Hasspacol's avocados were grown in Pácora, Caldas and were packed at Cartama's facility before being sent to the Caribbean port.

A Westfalia spokesperson confirmed the company was sending a container with 11MT of avocados, with the ship scheduled to set sail Saturday and arrive in Long Beach, California by Nov. 12. 

Juliana Villegas of export promotion agency ProColombia was overjoyed with the historical announcement.

"We are very enthusiastic and optimistic with this. The truth is that it’s very good news for the whole country," said Villegas, who is the group's vice president of exports.

"This is something that has been going on for more than 10 years as a country and as ProColombia we’ve been working on this since 2012 for admissibility of this product in the United States. 

"With a customer like United States which is demanding, we have the great responsibility as ProColombia to work with exporters so that they meet the market’s needs."

She said Europe was the country's leading Hass avocado export market, while conversations were also advanced with Chinese authorities for access to that market which has seen phenomenal growth for product from the likes of Chile, Mexico and Peru.

However, she emphasized that with post-conflict incentives in Colombia and a significant amount of agricultural land available for development, there was room for production growth to cater for a diverse range of markets.

"Between January and August we exported more or less US$32 million just in avocados, but in the entire previous year in 2016 it was close to US$21 million, so the performance has been very positive in the year to date and we’ll close the year with significant figures," she said.