Mission Produce claims to have exported the first container of fresh avocados from Peru to China, a load grown on the group's ranches in Peru and packed at its Avocado Packing facility in Chao.
Although Peruvian exporter Camposol reported it had shipped its first consignment of Hass avocados to China on 17 August, Mission Produce vice-president of marketing Robb Bertels said his group's order was picked, packed and shipped during the week of 9-15 August.
"We feel that our shipment was the first for a couple of reasons. Firstly we shipped the order to a firm customer (Lantao), not as a consignment order sent to the market; and secondly our load was picked, packed shipped during the week of 9-15 August, which I believe pre-dates the Camposol shipment," Bertels told Fruitnet.
Mission's shipment left the port of Paita, Peru, and will arrive at the Chinese port of Shanghai by mid-September.
According to Peru's Ministry of Agriculture and Irrigation (MINAGRI), "significant" export volumes are planned to China’s market of 1.4bn potential consumers.
“China represents an important market for Peruvian avocados, so we welcome the fact that the MINAGRI, through the National Service of Agrarian Health (SENASA), has made efforts necessary to gain entrance for Peruvian fruit," explained Simon Gonzalez, general manager of Mission’s Avocado Packing Company.
Avocado Packing Company is a joint venture between Mission and the Gonzzales Group - owner of Arato Peru SA - with the two firms each holding a 50 per cent stake.
The group's packing line began operations in May, and at full capacity can handle 30 tonnes of produce per hour, with a second packing line due to come online in 2017.
Peru has large areas dedicated to avocado production along the coast in the region of La Libertad. Mission’s ranches include Arato, near Chao, and Beggie, near Viru, which are part of the total production of approximately 10,000ha, 8,000 of which are certified by SENASA.
“We are very pleased with the efforts of everyone involved in Peru to make this happen—from our growers, to packing and logistics, to the Peruvian governmental agencies that helped make this a reality," said Mission’s CEO Steve Barnard.
“It is a big step for China to open the protocol for Peruvian fruit because this gives China a true, year-round supply to compliment other avocado sources during the season," added Tommy Padilla, Mission’s Asia sales manager. "Mission is fortunate to have a trusted partner in China that matches our values and philosophy of doing business. They reach the various marketing channels in China including supermarkets, fruit stands, push carts, farmer’s markets and small wet markets in all regions in China, not just the big cities of Beijing and Shanghai."
In order to meet the challenge of growing the avocado business in China, Mission turned to Lantao, and their CEO John Wang.
“The Lantao team is from mainland China, so we understand the consumer market in China better than anyone in the fruit import business,” said Wang. “Our team came up with a comprehensive plan to reach the various marketing channels including using POP materials and an e-commerce platform on WeChat to help educate the consumers on the uses of avocados. Because Lantao is distributing fruit from our seven regional offices, we are doing a great job covering the first tier, second tier and even third tier cities in China.”
Lantao is the largest importer and distributor of premium fresh fruit from around the world into China, with distribution locations including Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Zhengzhou, Herbing, Shenyang and Qingdao.
Mission recently completed construction on new packing facilities in Oxnard, California, and in Chao, Peru (Avocado Packing).