Importer-distributor Shanghai Supafresh recognises that developing the market for pre-ripened avocados is key to maintaining the exciting growth rates the avocado category has been enjoying in China. But the company is taking a different approach to rolling out ripened avocados under its new ‘Bravocado’ brand.
Shanghai Supafresh has introduced new packaging designed to carry fruit at different stages of ripeness in the same box, and thereby promote regular consumption.
“We’re trying to open the market for ripened avocados here in China, but we’re not just marketing ready-to-eat fruit,” the company’s purchasing manager Nathan Ning told Asiafruit. “By offering fruit with different levels of maturity in the same box, consumers can eat them day by day. There’s no need for them to worry that the avocados will not be ripe enough or overripe.”
Marketed under the Bravocado brand with the slogan ‘Eat Smart’, the packaged avocados are available in three-piece or six-piece packs. “In each pack, we can offer fruit at three different stages of ripeness – unripe green fruit, fruit that’s almost ripe, and ripe black fruit,” said Ning. “For the six packs, we can offer two of each of these fruit, or three near-ripe fruit and three ripe fruit, according to our clients’ requirements.”
Launched in April, the Bravocado brand is now being rolled out with the onset of the season for Peruvian avocados, which are embarking on their first second year of access to the Chinese market. “We chose the name Bravocado because bravo is a Spanish word and a lot of the avocados in China come from Latin American countries,” said Ning. “It’s the start of the Peruvian avocado season now and we’re excited about the prospects as the first arrivals last year were very well received.”
Peru has a good window of opportunity in the Chinese market between May and August, he added. “Chile is pretty much finished with avocados during this period while Mexican quality becomes less stable, so Peru has a good window during these summer months,” Ning said.
Nevertheless, he points out that ripening systems are required to drive sales of Peruvian avocados. “Last year the first arrivals performed well, but the wholesalers wanted green shiny fruit and then the receivers complained the fruit would not ripen.”
While wholesale markets are the dominant sales channel for avocados, they have a strong preference for regular (unripened) avocados. Shanghai Supafresh has mainly been selling its ripened fruit to food service customers such as hotels, but it plans to market more to wholesale and e-commerce customers this year.
Shanghai Supafresh has a presence in Shanghai, Beijing, Guangzhou, Chengdu, Wuhan and Shenyang. The company opened what it says was China’s first avocado ripening centre in Shanghai in 2015, and it’s now in the process of opening new ripening rooms in Guangzhou and Wuhan.
Besides developing awareness and acceptance of ripened avocados, getting the fruit into Chinese diets is key to unlocking the growth potential, said Ning. “These past few years, avocados have been booming in China, and they have certainly increased their market share,” he acknowledged. “But if we want to keep this growth going and really unleash the potential then we must educate consumers and get avocados into their daily diets. We can’t just rely on usage of avocados as a baby food, in salads or with soy sauce if we want to really ramp up consumption.”