Around 850 containers are due to have been shipped to relatively new market by the end of week 43, Camposol’s country business manager for China, Luis Miguel Baanante Cerdeña, told Fresh Fruit Portal.
Last season a total of 309 containers were shipped to the market, which opened for Peruvian avocados in 2015.
Camposol has led the country’s avocado exports to China this year, shipping 191 containers, compared to the next largest company with 131 containers, he says.
“We want to grow in this market and we want to have a very good balance with what we are shipping into the world,” he says.
Peru shipped avocados to China for longer this year, beginning four weeks earlier than last season, in week 14, and ending three weeks later in week 43.
“If you compare with [the exports] last year at this period in time, there were no containers sent to China,” says Baanante.
“We had some weeks this year where we received close to 100 containers per week. Last year, the peak was only about 35 containers per week.”
According to Baanante, Peruvian avocados started and ended the season at high prices. He said prices started “more or less the same” as the previous season and then dropped gradually until week 31, after which they began to rise again.
“The price rose initially at the season because we went out to the market with low volume. There was a market void that was good for Peruvian avocados,” he says.
“What we have seen in fact is that normally Mexican avocados are very low during those months, so there is room for the Peruvian market to increase.
“Overall prices dropped to a level we were forecasting since the beginning of the season. It was not a surprise for us.”
Baanante explained that the drop in price was due to the increase in export volume, and has nothing to do with the quality of the fruit.
Consumer preferences in China
Regarding recent industry reports that Peruvian avocados suffered slight quality problems this season, Baanante feels these do not reflect avocados from Camposol.
“China is a market that when you have good fruit, the market gives you a premium price. But when you have fruit that doesn’t arrive with the quality that Chinese consumers and buyers like, you have a big penalty,” he says.
“So now, through our farming, supply chain and sales channels expertise about Chinese market demand in terms of quality, our fruit has a strong preference among buyers.”
But the definition of good-quality avocado differs across regions, Baanante explains.
“The appearance of the avocado is a very important factor in China, totally different from the USA or European market – Chinese buyers pay extreme attention to the skin,” he says.
Preferences toward the color of avocados also seems to have also evolved in the Chinese market.
“Because Camposol has been playing very aggressively in the retail channel, especially opening an office in Shanghai to be in more contact with the consumers and gain feedback from them, what we have learned and realized this year is that surprisingly consumers in the supermarkets prefer black ripened avocados instead of green ones,” says Baanante.
“Just one year ago, this situation didn’t happen – retailers were asking for green avocados; they didn’t want the black avocados. So now, just in one year, the trend has changed a lot. The consumer is understanding that the black avocado is the one that is ready to eat, not one in bad condition.”
But with increasing demands of Chinese consumers, Camposol too had to change the way it packages avocados. This year, the company introduced a “four-piece clamshell pack”, where four avocados of two different stages of ripeness – two ready-to-eat and two unripe ones – are packed together for sale.
“The feedback that they gave us was that the consumers like the option to take home two avocados that are ready to eat on the same day, and another two avocados that they can store for some extra days.”
Double-digit growth over the next five years
When asked about projections for the future, Baanante said the next season will likely keep growing at double-digit rates.
“This year the market grew by 2.74 times. How much can it grow next year? I don’t know. We need to see how this year’s Mexican and Chile seasons go, and how the Chinese consumer keeps learning and getting more knowledge on how to eat avocados,” he says.
“This is the first year, I believe, that importers, exporters, and customers had more confidence in Peruvian avocados.”
However, much has to be done on the education level, Baanante says.
“We are making some efforts in promotions, advertisements and via education in the stores, but the industry needs to come together where importers and exporters can participate – that is going to be a winning strategy.”