EU avocado market conditions have been "marvelous", says Israeli exporter -

EU avocado market conditions have been "marvelous", says Israeli exporter

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As the Israeli avocado export season enters its closing stages, one major shipper says the industry has enjoyed lucrative prices in the European market over recent months. 

Galilee Export vice president of marketing Eitan Zvi told Fresh Fruit Portal the last green-skinned varieties were being shipped this week and Hass volumes would see a reduction during the coming weeks.

He also said Israeli avocado exports for the 2017-18 season would likely end up 20% lower year-on-year.

"In terms of green-skinned, the season is terminating this week with the last departures," he said.

"The only variety left is Reed, which we stop with when we see other sales coming into the market. The domestic market for Reed is very good in April, May and June."

"For Hass we still have a few weeks to go and we will soon start to see a reduction in volumes. A few growers have already finished their season."

He explained the Hass season typically ran from November through April but Israel doesn't ramp up EU-bound volumes until around January to limit overlap with Chile.

Zvi also highlighted excellent market conditions this campaign in Europe, where avocado demand has been soaring over the last few years.

"The green-skinned market is based on Israel, so if Israel is short then of course the market was short. For Hass, Chile was a bit short in January and February and also Israel had less than last year, so the market was marvelous," he said, noting Spain, Colombia and Mexico had also been present in the market.

In August last year a South Africa exporter said he had been "blown away" by the strong European market demand for green-skinned varieties, and the World Avocado Association recently said that sales in 2017 had grown by 16% year-on-year.

The Israeli avocado industry exported 65,000 metric tons (MT) in the previous season, and this campaign Zvi expected the level to end up around 52,000MT. About 70% of national production is exported.

He said the reduction, which was felt more on green-skinned, was largely the result of cold weather in April and May last year which affected the flowering stage, as well as some frost later in the year. He did not believe any growers had had huge yields.

"Some had very, very low yields. It really depends on the grower," he said, adding he expected volumes to rise next year.

Industry growth and the prospect of Chinese market access

Zvi said while industry volumes would likely grow over the comings years, there was unlikely to be a sharp increase due to the low land availability and the lack of avocado plants from nurseries.

"From the middle to the north of the country there is not a lot of free land as the majority of the good area has already been planted on," he said, adding lots of growers were now trying to expand production in the south.

He also was optimistic Israeli would gain Chinese avocado market access within the next couple of years. However, he said the logistics of shipping to China would not be easy and noted that "when prices are so good in Europe you don't see much reason to send elsewhere."

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