According to Brian Gomez, Vice President of Mexican grower and direct shipper GreenFruit, "Smaller sized fruit, size 30 and smaller, tends to be the most popular in Asian markets. Unlike the American market which receives double layer boxes, avocados are sent in single layer 6kg boxes. I think that there are two reasons why those customers prefer the single layer; one because it allows them to view the quality on arrival, but also because the consumption levels are not established enough to sell that many avocados in one go."
GreenFruit Avocados currently packs and ships fruit for the Asian market to Hong Kong, Japan, and Mainland China, with a bit of airfreight to Singapore. They currently send their avocados to the main ports, Guangzhou, Beijing, Shanghai, but are exploring other markets in China due to the rising consumption.
Grown, packed and shipped by boat directly from Mexico, the Haas avocado is the only variety sent to mainland China.
Controlled atmosphere during transport preserves the fruit so they are green and hard when they arrive. Chinese customers prefer to receive their avocados unripe so they have the room of a few days to sell their product. Consumers there also prefer to have a couple of days to use them once they are brought home.
Education is key
"We are busy educating our customers in China by sharing marketing information provided by the different avocado marketing boards, Avocados from Mexico, for example. We also do a few in-house programs to educate our customers so they can educate the consumer. That is the biggest factor right now, providing this type of information to trading companies and retail stores is crucial because it is the only way that the Chinese consumer is going to find out why the avocado is so good for them. We have to educate them about nutritional facts, how to eat them, when they are ready, and things like that." said Gomez.
"The customer is also doing his part by attracting the consumer with in store sampling. Preparing it in their everyday types of foods, either in a salad or a simple dish like avocado, rice and soy sauce."
Mainland China is becoming a very important market to Mexico, especially with the addition of more fields and increasing production volumes over the next few years. Of course, the more established Japan is, is also important, and Mexico plans to put the focus on both of these countries for future promotion.
"A lot more companies are interested in receiving avocados compared to even a year ago. As it stands now, it seems to me that China has the potential to double its growth year on year in the next 5 years." said Gomez.
New appointed Director of Business & Marketing Development Dan Acevedo, added, "I think that, along with education, food service will be a driving force on how to introduce avocados into the Chinese meal plan."
When asked about recent avocado shortage rumors, Gomez said that he doesn't expect there to be an issue meeting demand in the global market for the next 5 years. However, he does think that a shortage could be possible in the next 10 to 15 years if the Chinese market continues to grow and becomes as much of a consumer as the US.
"Other countries also have the potential to supply the Chinese market as consumption levels continue to grow. Peru & Chile were recently approved, Colombia is on the horizon and will soon have the volume and quality to support export programs."
"At GreenFruit Avocados we are working on not only being domestically known, but globally known too. We pride ourselves on being a fully integrated direct avocado supplier 52 weeks of the year, whether it is the US, Canada, Japan or China." concludes Gomez.