Founded 16 years ago by Francisco Claros, from Malaga, and with a family tradition in avocado production, Eurofresh is a company with 100% Spanish capital based in Malaga, with subsidiaries in Peru and the Dominican Republic and plans to expand also in Colombia.
"We work with local producers who are fully integrated in our structure, and we also run our own farms. We have 1,200 hectares devoted to organic avocado production in Peru, more than 1,100 hectares in the Dominican Republic, with about 500 owned by us, 90 hectares in Colombia and 55 hectares in Malaga, Spain. Moreover, we have our own processing plants in all these countries, as well as in the Netherlands, in the port of Rotterdam," says Silvia Madrueño, head of commercial coordination and marketing management at Eurofresh.
"We have set ourselves up in all of these countries with the idea of being able to supply our own avocados to large retailers almost all year round. Only when strictly necessary, and to ensure the stability of the supply, we resort to timely imports from countries such as Mexico, Kenya or Brazil," she explains.
At the moment, the company is marketing organic avocados from Peru, which have been harvested since January.
"We have opted for Morocco and Colombia for the supply of organic fruit. Colombian avocados, for example, are gradually gaining ground in Europe, although they are still rather unknown. We are investing a lot in this country, as we believe it will end up playing a key role. The country's conditions make the crop's agronomic management difficult when growing it organically, and our great advantage is the infrastructure that we already have in place and the decades of experience that we have growing avocados," says Silvia Madrueño.
More than 80% of Eurofresh's current production is organic and Hass avocados are the flagship product, together with tropical avocados and the Fuerte, to a lesser extent. It also has its own production of ginger and turmeric, mangoes and lemons. The company controls the entire chain, from growing and harvesting to handling, packaging, logistics and marketing.
According to Silvia Madrueño, the Spanish company was a pioneer in the cultivation of organic avocados in both Peru and the Dominican Republic. "We were among the first to bring organic agriculture to these countries, back in a time when organic avocado cultivation practices were still unknown."
The main European destinations for the organic avocados produced by Eurofresh are Germany, the United Kingdom, France and the Nordic countries. "In Spain it is more difficult to sell organic avocados, but we quickly positioned ourselves in other markets, such as Germany and Switzerland, which were among the first to show appreciation for organic agriculture and its values more than 20 years ago. Spain, like France or Italy, is not as advanced in this sense," says Madrueño.
Outside of Europe, the company is making inroads in markets such as the United States, Canada, Central America and China. It has been exporting organic avocados to some of the main operators in the United States for several years, and is currently positioning itself in the Asian market. "Our infrastructure in Latin America is a great advantage both to guarantee the quality of the fruit to our customers and to gain access to these destinations," he says.
Tropical avocados, much larger and with a milder flavour
Tropical avocado varieties are identified by their large size and higher water content, which results in them containing less fat. In fact, big brands in the United States and Spain have carried out marketing campaigns to promote them as low-calorie avocados.
"We have the varieties Carla, Lula and Semil, which are considered the tastiest. It is a very popular product in the United States and therefore, given the large volumes we handle, we ship it mostly to this market, with some going also to our customers in Europe. It is a different sort of avocado, compared to the Hass. It can be consumed in other ways. It is creamier and its flavour is milder."
The smaller sizes are now more appreciated
"Whereas small sizes were considered difficult to sell a few years ago, nowadays there is often a lack of small fruits to cover the demand," says Silvia Madrueño. The interest in small sizes is mainly due to a price issue. "Logically, size has an influence on the price's perception. Moreover, there is the factor of food waste, about which there is a lot of awareness in the organic sector. There are times when, for example, a large calibre avocado cannot be fully consumed, so half is kept in the fridge, and eventually, this half ends up thrown away. With smaller avocados, the whole fruit can be more easily consumed. They are also more versatile and can be used as a snack or accompaniment for other dishes. We do not see avocados as a commodity or a trendy product, but as a nutritious food behind which there are values that we respect."