Camposol aiming to match Peruvian avocado volumes in Colombia, says CEO

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Camposol aiming to match Peruvian avocado volumes in Colombia, says CEO

A Camposol executive says the main reason behind the company's decision to invest in Colombian avocado production is to achieve a year-round supply of the in-demand fruit. 

CEO Jorge Ramírez also said the company is aiming to produce similar volumes in Colombia to its current operations in Peru.

The Peru-headquartered produce giant recently announced in a financial report that it had acquired land in Colombia to grow in the frui,t but had not given further details as to the size of the investment or its plans.

Speaking to Fresh Fruit Portal, Ramírez said Camposol has so far bought around 350 hectares of land in one of Colombia's leading avocado-growing regions, the Eje Cafetero.

"Things are going according to plan," he said.

"We invested a lot of time in planning and understanding the process related to the regulations on the acquisition of land itself all the way up to other production, legal and environmental frameworks.

"As of today, we have close to 350 hectares purchased and 75 hectares planted. We want to grow to until the point that we have more or less the same volumes coming from Colombia as we do from Peru, and that would mean in the long-run we would have to get somewhere close to 2,000 hectares."

Ramírez explained that the decision to invest in Colombian avocado production had come about following the company's evolution over the years to become a vertically integrated supplier.

He said that when Camposol first decided to increase its portfolio of fresh fruit offerings many years ago, it saw the need to have a "more direct road to market in order to capture the value recognition that our fruit deserves." 

"Everything became easier when we were able to offer blueberries," he said.

"That’s when we finally got direct access to the supermarkets through our own commercial and distribution operations in the USA, Europe and most recently China. Once we consolidated blueberries, the path for avocados was much simpler."

He said that by controlling the entire production and supply process, Camposol thrived thanks to being able to offer supermarkets a high level of quality and consistency, full traceability, and a guarantee on price levels. 

Camposol has been highly successful in the avocado business - as shown in its bottom line - but Ramírez said that in the last couple of years the company's management had decided it needed a year-round supply of the fruit.

"Colombia has the geography that could help us increase our window of supply to almost a year-round supply for our customers," he said.

The Peruvian avocado season typically runs from April to August, and Ramírez believed that by planting in different latitudes and altitudes in Colombia, Camposol could supply the fruit from September all the way to March.

He said there were some restrictions to purchasing land in Colombia, but he was hopeful a total of around 2,000 hectares could be acquired in around three or four years. 

He added that investments in infrastructure would follow in the coming years., pointing out that avocado trees typically took around three years to start producing fruit and six to come into full production.

Colombia last year gained access to the U.S. avocado market, and in March this year authorities announced it they had agreed on export protocols with Japan, but Ramírez said that these factors had not played a significant role in Camposol's decision to invest in Colombia.

"We have global customers and will be attending to them," he said.

Ramírez also said he believed that Colombia would become a very important player in the global avocado industry in the future.

"The consumption of avocados in the world has been growing fast, and that’s a trend that I personally believe we will keep on for quite a while, at least in the medium-term, if not in the longer term," he said.

"When consumption increases it’s very logical that supply will follow through, and Colombia is a country that has - from what we have studied - the climatic and soil conditions to be attractive in avocados.

"Of course, there are some important challenges from being a new industry and developing new supply areas for the avocado industry, but I'm sure it will come into place and it will be an important player."


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