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The Dominican Tropical Avocado
A rising star in the avocado worldAlso known as the West Indian, green-skinned or smooth-skinned avocado, the tropical avocado is markedly different from the Hass avocado that makes up 95% of the World market.
The Dominican Republic is the world’s second largest producer of avocados but only the 14th largest exporter - indicating that Dominicans prefer to eat their avocados rather than export them.
Tropical avocados make up 85% of the DR's production and retain a strong position in the U.S. market even though the US market is 96 percent for Hass. The tropical avocado market is concentrated on the East Coast, which houses the largest populations of Caribbean immigrants where 75 percent of tropical avocados are sold. The DR holds a 98 percent share of U.S. imports of tropical avocados; and also holds a total monopoly on that segment after March when Florida is not producing.
Dominican exports of tropical avocados to the US jump mid-October of every year when a U.S. Department of Agriculture marketing order for tropical avocados allows for the marketing of the Semil 34 variety which accounts for 64% of the DR’s production. The marketing order determines when a specific variety matures and ensure that immature fruit does not reach the market. The DR is currently shipping close to 1,350 metric tons a week of tropical avocados to the US market.
Europe has traditionally been a clearance market little exploited by Dominican exporters. Distance counts against the tropical varieties which are more fragile and delicate in transport and storage. Consumed primarily during holiday periods in Europe, these avocados must reach the shelves still very firm which requires transport by air-freight.
Dominican interest in the European market heightened after the March 2015 to January 2016 ban on tropical avocados exports to the US because of the Mediterranean fruit fly. There are a small number of Dominican companies with GlobalG.A.P. certifications that are ready to ship to Europe and many other companies are in the process of achieving GlobalG.A.P. certifications. It is important to note that the Dominican Republic receives more than 5 million tourists a year, many from Europe, and Dominican avocados are starting to occupy more of the belly cargo on many of these returning charter flights. These tourists may also have tried Dominican tropical avocados for the first time and liked them.
For more information on suppliers:
Exporting Quality Program
The following are the primary tropical avocado varieties and their seasonal availability:
• Choquette – Guatemala/Mexican hybrid, available October to December. Very large fruits, skin glossy, smooth, dark green, slightly leathery. Flesh thick, yellow, very good quality. Oil content 13%. Seed medium size.
• Hall - Guatemala/Mexican hybrid, available October to December. A close relative of the Choquette and similar in shape and size, the Hall avocado has nuttier, drier and thicker flesh, though still juicy and fruity.
• Lula – Guatemalan/Mexican hybrid. Available November to February. Fruit pear-shaped, sometimes with a neck, medium-large. Skin almost smooth. Flesh pale to greenish-yellow. Oil content 12-16%. Seed large, tight.
• Pollock – West Indian. Available June to August. Long to pear-shaped fruit. Very large, up to 5 lbs. Green skin, smooth, glossy. Flesh firm, smooth and fin in texture. Deep yellow changing to yellowish-green close to the skin. Contains 3-5% oil. Seed large, frequently loose in cavity.
• Carla - West Indian Guatemalan hybrid. Available March to May. Fruit is of large size and with good to excellent quality. The fruit oil content is 8 to 13%. The fruit flesh does not readily oxidize when cut and is well suited for when the consumer does not intend to use entire fruit at one time.
• Simmonds – West Indian, available June to September. Fruit large, oblong-oval to pyriform. Skin smooth, light green. Flesh of good flavor, oil content 3-6%. Seed medium size, usually tight. exceptional trade acceptance, and superb eating quality make it an excellent choice
• Bernecker West Indian; available Feb to May. fruit, ellipsoid-spheroid; medium to large size, 14-22 oz., 3 4/16->3 6/16 in. dia.; skin, light green to green, smooth, flesh good to excellent quality; oil content unknown; seed medium size, tight in cavity; harvested late July through August.
• Semil–34 – Guatemala West Indies hybrid, available September to February, pear shaped, heavy bearing, excellent shelf life.
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