Chinese importer-exporter Lantao and leading avocado producer Mission Produce has imported ten air shipments of almost 200 pallets of Mexican avocados as of 1 August, taking an opportunity that may not arise again.
“This was a spot market opportunity that is unlikely to materialise in the same way again,” Jim Provost of Lantao told Fruitnet. “The reason for the opportunity is there was a shortage of fruit in the Chinese market and the very first of the new crop from Mexico was shipped by air to fill the gaps.”
Provost said that the main Mexican avocado crop usually begins in September, but there was an early crop, locally known as ‘crazy fruit’, that was perfectly timed to meet the high demand for avocados in China as a result of a sea shipment of avocados being delayed during a typhoon.
“Next year there will be fruit available from Peru during this window, so it is unlikely that air shipments will make sense then,” Provost added.
"Frequent avocado [air shipments] in such a short time have not only set a precedent in China’s imported avocado industry, but also have broken the world record for air avocado shipments," said Asia export manager at Mission Produce, Thomas Padilla, in a press release.
The air shipments of avocados were specifically aimed at high-end consumers, and while expensive, Lanto’s Shanghai manager Ge Lei said that the quality is far superior to seafreighted avocados that take 20-days to arrive.
"Actually, there is a misunderstanding that avocados have a long shelf-life,” said Ge. “The ideal storage temperature for the avocado is 4 to 8 degrees Celsius. If the temperature is too cold or the period is too long, decay at the ends of the fruit and black fibers in the flesh will occur, which are customers’ main quality complaints."
Ge expects Mexican avocado shipments to China to triple this year compared to last.