South African avocados take advantage of empty EU markets
Strong opening prices for SA avocados in EU
The first South African avocados have started arriving in Europe to find quite empty markets because recent floods have disrupted the Peruvian avocado industry, causing a delay in ripening and loading their fruit.
“We normally receive good prices this time of the year due to an empty market. Because of the lack of supply from Peru, prices might even be higher than in previous years,” says Rouxan Jansen van Rensburg of Corefruit. Their first consignment of Fuerte and Maluma Hass arrived late last week in the EU. “At opening levels of €15 to €16 for 4kg Hass it looks very promising.”
Richard Nhatarikwa of The Fruit Farm Group agrees that prices are strong; their first consignment, also Fuerte, arrived this week in Rotterdam. “Prices are better than last year, even though we were helped by the exchange rate last year. Our first consignment was five containers, each containing 20 pallets with 264 x 4kg cartons.” They will start sending Hass avocados this week, arriving from 15 packhouses in the Lowveld, South Africa’s foremost avocado production region. Last year the company marketed over 2 million 4kg cartons.
The EU takes 99% of South Africa’s export avocados; the UK making up 20% of that figure.
Avocado volumes are expected to be somewhat lower than last year; 50,000t versus 2016’s 54,000t. “Avocados are alternate bearing and this is an off year. Last year was an on year and volumes would’ve been greater if it hadn't been for the hail. However, orchard management techniques like correct pruning, irrigation and fertilisation reduce the fluctuations between alternate years. Also, there are new orchards coming into production this year, which further reduces the fluctuation,” explains Derek Donkin, Subtrop CEO. There will be an extra 1,000ha of avocados planted every year for the next few years.
Currently, South African avocado production is made up of 60 to 62% Hass and Hass-type (like Maluma and GEM) avocados and 38 to 40% greenskinned varieties, like Fuerte and Pinkerton. “The export market prefers the darkskinned avocado, but there is a place for Greenskins as well. Local preference is the opposite but it is changing. Ten to fifteen years ago there was low local demand for Hass and prices were low, but it has become increasingly popular,“ says Donkin.
Roughly half – 50 to 54% - of local production is exported, a substantial portion (10 to 15%) is sent for processing into guacamole or avocado oil, and the rest is consumed fresh. “Volumes are steadily increasing,” says Christoff de Wet, market agent at the RSA Group. “Fuerte is common, while Hass and Pinkerton are trickling in. Count 12 avocados are getting a decent price, R60 to R80 [€4.39 to €5.86] per 4kg carton. Quality is very good.” At the consumer end, supermarket prices are still very high.
Elfranco Hoogenhout, owner of Farmers Trust, is seeing the same prices for avocados of counts 12 and 14, going down to R50 [€3.66] for smaller avocados, counts 20 and 22. “At the moment we’re still only marketing Fuerte, Hass will come in about a month’s time. There aren’t a lot but there are enough.”
For more information:
Rouxan Jansen van Rensburg
Tel: +27 21 863 6300
The Fruit Farm Group
Tel: +27 15 307 8500
Tel: +27 15 306 6240
Christoff de Wet
Tel: +11 613 4391
Tel: +27 12 323 2000
Publication date: 3/28/2017
Author: Carolize Jansen
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