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Mr Avocado ripening centre opens in China

New facility, jointly operated by Mission Produce, Lantao and Pagoda, to roll out ripe avocados to Chinese consumers under Mr Avocado brand

Mr Avocado ripening centre opens in China

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US-based avocado grower-packer-marketer Mission Produce has announced that it has completed construction of its first ripening centre in China.

The Shanghai-based facility will be operated by its joint venture with Chinese importer Lantao International and fast-expanding fruit chain Pagoda Stores under the Mr Avocado brand for distribution of ripened avocados in China. 

“We are very excited about the growth we’ve seen in China over the past several years. By opening the Mr Avocado Ripe Center in Shanghai, we will be able to provide ripe fruit to the market and accelerate that growth,” said Steve Barnard, Mission’s president and CEO. “Our partnership with Lantao and Pagoda to develop the Mr Avocado brand for ripe fruit strengthens our leadership position in China.”

The facility, strategically located near Yangtze River Delta and the Port of Shanghai, has four ripening rooms with two-tier racking systems and a combined capacity to handle 80 pallets, according to Mission. Constructed under the supervision of Mission’s engineering team, the rooms are duplicates of the energy-efficient, high air-flow, temperature-controlled rooms the company uses in its eight ripening centres in the US. Mission says the centre is the first-ever avocado-specific ripening facility to be built in China.

Lantao CEO John Wang said consumer acceptance and recognition of avocados was growing in China, and that the time was right for rolling out the Mr Avocado brand for the ripe programme.

“After years of promoting and developing avocados in the Chinese market, we have reached a turning point. Because there has been only hard fruit available, customers had to ripen on their own,” Wang explained.

‘The US market began to develop rapidly over 20 years ago when Mission started ripening fruit for retailers. We are following the same format now in China. Through our Mr Avocado partnership, we’re supplying professionally-crafted, ready-to-eat avocados to the Chinese market. I believe Mr Avocado will be the leading avocado brand in China."

Pagoda operates more than 1,800 specialist fruit shops across China, with plans to have more over 10,000 outlets by 2020, and the company’s chairman Yu Huiyong identified great potential to grow the avocado category.
“I told my team three years ago that we need to pay special attention to avocados. If we lose avocados, we would lose half of the fruit category,” he said. “So, I have been looking for the opportunity to form a partnership with the best worldwide avocado company.”

China’s avocado imports enjoyed rapid growth in 2016, albeit from a low base, according to China customs data analysed by Fresh Intelligence Consulting. Volumes reached 25,000 tonnes, up from just over 15,000 tonnes in 20015, with Mexico and Chile dominating supplies, followed by Peru. 

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