Chilean avocado delegation visits Europe to allay water usage concerns

Chilean avocado delegation visits Europe to allay water usage concerns

A delegation of the Chilean avocado industry recently traveled to Europe to allay concerns recently raised by local media that the industry was limiting people's access to water. 

British newspaper The Guardian and a major German TV channel were among those who reported that the avocado sector in Petorca, in the central Chilean region of Valparaiso, was exacerbating the drought conditions local residents had for years been battling with.

A group made up of members of the Chilean Fruit Exporters' Association (Asoex), the Hass Avocado Committee, local organization Agropetorca, and small-holder growers had sought to limit the potential impact on the avocado industry.

Fresh Fruit Portal attended a press conference in the Chilean capital Santiago on Tuesday (July 3), during which Asoex president Ronald Bown said the subject had received widespread attention over recent months both in Chile and abroad.

"This information has come mainly from interest groups whose intentions we don't understand," he said, adding that claims reported by European media outlets "did not represent the truth." He said the situation had jeopardized avocado exports from Petorca, which he described as "unacceptable."

Bown explained that the trip to Europe had been a preventative measure, as there did not yet appear to have been any negative impact because of the reports.

He added that the avocado sector in Petorca was concerned, given that around 40% of the local residents are employed in the industry. Bown went on to say: "We want the whole industry to be concerned about this, and that the authorities and legislators get involved and visit the area. We are not afraid of audits."

Avocado prices in Chile

On a similar topic, the Chilean market has seen extremely high prices for avocados over recent months, which local media have in part linked to the drought conditions in the central-northern areas of the country, where most of the fruit is grown.

Chilean Hass Avocado Committee general manager Francisco Contardo, however, denied that the high prices were not the result of the drought, saying they were simply a reflection of supply and demand. 

"There has been a lot of speculation, the first of which is that the situation in Petorca is related to the high prices, which is incorrect," he said. The Chilean season typically runs from August through February.

Contardo also said the Chilean avocado industry was expecting an increase in production this coming season.

"We expect to produce this season 245,000 metric tons (MT) of avocado, which would be 20,000MT more than last season. We think that the proportions will be the same - 30% for the domestic market and 70% for exports," he said.

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