Greencell is gearing up to launch several new avocado varieties in 2017 and 2018 in a bid to bring "gourmet avocadoes" to the UK market, the company's managing director has revealed.
Graham Young, who heads up the UK arm of South African fruit producer Westfalia Fruit, said Greencell is at the forefront of innovation to boost the quality of product in the British avocado market.
“What we’ve been trying to produce is the gourmet avocado,” he said. “The UK market has been very successful at managing the introduction of ‘good avocadoes’ and ‘better avocadoes’, but it’s that top tier of produce that we’re really aiming for. We’re looking to make the step up to gourmet quality.”
Alongside the University of California, Greencell is one of the only major centres of avocado research in the world, working on growing techniques and varietal innovation.
The new varieties, which are yet to be announced but will hit the UK market in 2017 and 2018, will be high-yielding, with “good shape”, “good oil content” and a “nutty taste”, Young said.
Importantly for growers, the fruit will also be able to withstand a wider temperature range than most other varieties. “They fit with the growing as well as the consumer characteristics for success,” said the MD.
At present, one of the main obstacles in avocado quality is their storage and shelf-life, with the fruit normally lasting just three to four days on the shelf and seven to ten days in the fridge. The company is currently working on technology to extend shelf life, but this is a separate project to its current varietal innovation in avocadoes.
Greencell, which also supplies citrus and several other fruits to the UK market, has expanded across all areas of the business, achieving double-digit revenue growth over the last few years. This has been driven by booming demand for avocadoes in the UK and Europe.
To meet growing demand its production areas have also expanded, with Westfalia Fruit “putting in thousands of hectares across the world in new plantations”. “World demand continues to grow at a faster rate than world supply,” he said.
Greencell currently has growing operations in South Africa, Colombia, Peru, California and Mozambique, with new plantations planned in an undisclosed European country.