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Russians forced to eat hard avocadosAvocado sales in Russia has been growing over the last few years and Andrey Volkov from Russian importer Tropic International said that they have been working on making this a year round product for Russia.
"Avocados are an attractive product for consumers and we have had no problems moving around 2-3 containers a week to our customers. The only issue is the quality that we sometimes receive, ideally, I would like to source more from Holland, in order to start getting better quality." shared Andrey.
"You can find some serious exporters, but they usually sell their best products first to Europe, the US, Japan and the Middle East first, then followed by Russia ." continued Andrey.
A majority of the consignments sent to Russia are only sent on pre-payment. Importers need to pay a percentage before loading, followed by the remainder upon arrival. The goods have to be paid for before they can be unloaded, which can sometimes lead to unwelcome surprises. He said that only after a good business relationship has been established, after years of doing business together, are exporters willing to work out other payment terms.
"Luckily there are ways to help move some of the avocados which are not perfect to smaller local marketplaces by offering a big discount, which is not possible at the larger supermarket chains in bigger cities, where quality standards are much higher. However, this can also be tricky because only the best quality can be sent to the further destinations, otherwise they will need to be thrown away by the time they finally reach their destination, so it all becomes a balancing act." said Andrey.
"The long transit time of 4 weeks makes it is very difficult for even serious suppliers to keep the balance and ensure that the avocados arrive in good condition. So many things can happen along the way that it is difficult to avoid skin defects and deliver a hard avocado, either because of what happened during the growing or storage process, lack of water on the plantation, chemical treatment in the packing station, or just human factors such as technical mistakes etc."
Andrey shared that offering 'ready to eat' avocados is not something the retailers have expressed any interest in. The hard avocados give distributors the time to get the goods to their customers, along with the fact that retailers consider the avocados past their date if they receive them soft because it is not what they are used to.
"I used to live in Spain, so I know what an avocado should taste like. Most Russian consumers don't know any better and think that they should be hard as a rock, chopping them up to put in salads. I personally don't know how they are eating them and it's a shame because it could put off potential customers." said Andrey.
Demand for avocados peaks just before and around holidays in Russia. On average, Russian retailers go through between 1-2 boxes of avocados per store, per week, with today's average price falling around 35 rbl per piece.
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