Exporters eagerly await final arrangements to key new markets India and China, so they can begin shipments

India has granted access to South African avocados, a development expected to provide a significant boost to the country’s industry.

“We are awaiting details of whether a delegation will follow to verify the compliance at packhouses in South Africa before shipments can start,” said Derek Donkin, chief executive of Subtrop.

It could be some time before all the final arrangements will be in place to start shipments, but the announcement marks a second breakthrough for the industry in the past 12 months after access to China was granted in 2023.

The case of China serves as an example of the process that still lies ahead as the final list of approved South African packhouses still needs to be signed off by the Chinese Plant Health Authorities.

Leading exporters from South Africa have said they are ready to move ahead but are frustrated that the process is not yet completed.

Westfalia Fruit announced earlier this year that their first shipments were expected to arrive in Chinese ports at the end of March.

The South African Department of Agriculture (DALLRAD) is understood to have completed its own packhouse inspection process, which now must be verified and accepted by Chinese authorities.

“As far as India is concerned, we now have to meet with DALLRAD to understand what the South African growers and pack houses must do further before shipments can be implemented,” he said.

Donkin said it is likely a visit by the Chinese inspection team will take place from 17 June this year. The earliest that shipments to China can start, will be a couple of weeks after the Chinese delegation returns home.

By the end of June, a large part of the South African avocado crop will have been harvested and shipped meaning there could be limited opportunities to take full advantage of these new opportunities in China and India this year.

Exporters say they have plans in place to start shipments to China as soon as possible. ZZ2 has confirmed that their partnership with Mission Fruit will result in a further 1,000ha being planted in South Africa.

“So far, we have already planted some 250ha and arrangements have been set up with the Chinese trader, Mr Avocado, a Chinese ripe-and-ready avocado brand,” ZZ2 said.

Donkin noted it can take time to get inter-government processes in place but access to both China and India will be a massive boost for the South African industry once finalised as it will allow the country to widen its markets in Asia. 

Next month is also expected to see the start of Hass exports to Japan, following the decision by the Japanese authorities to grant South African avocados access.