The first South African avocados of the season have arrived on the retail shelves of Europe, amidst indications that the country will export lower volumes of the fruit this year.
The early crop prediction has been fixed at 12.5m cartons, compared with 13.5m cartons last year. “This is predicted to be about 1m cartons short of last year, but this is expected to be an off-year for our orchards,” explained Derek Donkin of Subtrop.
Reports from Europe indicate that the first fruit of the season is arriving in a strong market and this is expected to carry on for the entire early season. “The effects of the recent floods in Peru needs to be established, but it is expected that it will delay Peruvian shipments to the UK and Europe,” Donkin noted.
In South Africa the northern avocado regions have had good recent rains, which have changed conditions for the season compared with last year’s water shortages. “However, the rains came a bit late for the crop set in November and December and we will have to see how the season will evolve,” said Donkin.
Nonetheless, it is expected that the country will have a crop of excellent quality and will have a good season. The reality is that the growers and exporters will have to deal with exchange rates which will be much more unfavourable compared with last year.
“Part of the optimism is routed in the fact that avocado consumption is growing in all our markets,” Donkin explained.
He said that the considerable investment by South Africa in consumer awareness programmes is continuing to pay off. “From this season this work will continue via the World Avocado Organization which is driven mainly by Peru and South Africa. We believe this is a very positive development to further promote consumption to the benefit of all of us,” he added.
In the orchards there is an increase in the production of early Hass type varieties and these fruits are now included in the early season shipments among the green skin types. The industry is also in a growth phase and it is expected that production will rise in future.