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Chilean avocados see good prospects in Asia
Chilean exporters of Hass avocados will prioritize shipments to Asia in the medium and long term, especially to China, which in 2016 ranked fifth among the destinations for that fruit, union sources said.
The manager of the Association of Producers and Exporters of Hass Avocado of Chile, Juan Enrique Lazo, told Notimex that "our chips are in Asia in the medium and long term, as we consider it will be our future market."
He said that they had spent a fair amount on advertising in Asia in the past two years to promote Chilean avocados there, particularly in China.
However, he said, "our main export market is still Europe, our exports are very focused there now and it is a market that we never want to leave."
Lazo said, "we have to diversify our market and look for better returns, which is why we look favorably on Asia."
"We have our eyes set on Asia because its markets are learning to eat Chilean avocados, and consumers are very well aware of healthy foods," he said.
According to statistics from the Office of Agricultural Policies and Studies (Odepa) of the Ministry of Agriculture, up until December 2016 the country had 26,491 hectares planted with avocados for commercial production, most of them in the Region of Valparaiso, 120 kilometers to the northwest of Santiago.
Chile exported 147,124 tons of avocado for almost 370 million dollars in 2016, well above the 90,000 tons it exported in 2015.
Last year, the main export destination was the Netherlands, which acts as a distributor of Chilean avocados in Europe, followed by the United States, the United Kingdom, Argentina, and China.
Lazo said that "after a long drought, we have been slightly reversing a downward trend in our production. Even though we are planting new plots, we are still very far from the planted surface we had a few years ago."
"In the last two years our sector's balance has had a tendency to move towards export. Demand for avocados in the local market has dropped a bit because of the price," he said.
He said that Chile's cold and dry climate gave Chilean avocados some advantages over those produced in tropical nations, as their production had less disease and the fruit better concentrated its flavor because its pulp had a lower consistency.
Regarding local strategies, he said that Chilean avocado exporters "were leaving the United States, as Mexico had a very strong position there due to its proximity. That is why we have our eyes set on Asia and we believe that is our future."
According to statistics of the union, Chile has 20 thousand hectares planted with the Hass variety, concentrated in the Region of Valparaiso, a much smaller figure than in 2008, when the country had 40 thousand hectares; a number that dwindled due to the frost and droughts that affected the producing areas.
Publication date: 6/13/2017
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