The export of avocados by the Association of Producers and Packers Exporters of Avocado of Mexico (APEAM) generates an economic gain for the country of approximately 2.5 billion dollars, said Ramon Paz Vega, strategic adviser of the group.
In a telephone interview with Notimex, he said that their avocado was eaten in about 30 countries, and that they produced 80 percent of the avocado consumed in the United States and accounted for 50 percent of the total world exports.
He also said this association was about to turn 20 years old and that it had been established primarily to be a cooperator of the United States Department of Agriculture, when that market was opened to Mexico's avocado. Today it groups a little more than 21 thousand producers.
He added that 80 percent of the producers were small producers that had less than five hectares, but that the Association also grouped 47 exporters. "Our industry represents 60 percent of the agricultural GDP of Michoacan."
According to some estimates, the industry generates 70 thousand direct jobs and 300 thousand indirect jobs. In 2016, they exported 943,621 tons of avocado to North America, Europe, Central America, and Asia.
The spokesman of APEAM said that they cooperate with the Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, Rural Development, Fisheries and Food (SAGARPA) to administer a series of measures that the municipalities, the orchards, and the packaging are required to comply with to export avocado to the United States.
He said that they had a scientific and technological research program to manage crops, and a number of additional activities.
In addition, he said, they seek to defend the common interests of producers and exporters. "In that sense, the association has conducted very important and productive promotions for several years to develop markets, especially in the United States," he said.
He added that they were also running important ads and promotional campaigns in Japan and Canada, but on a smaller scale.
Paz Vega said that "in 2007 we had access to the entire United States market throughout the year and, starting that year, we have been developing that market, as the Mexican product accounts for 80 percent of the avocados consumed in the US and we have full access to this market."
To promote the Mexican fruit, he said, "we carry out promotion campaigns, especially for consumers and the commercial sector, for supermarket chains and restaurants in the United States, letting people know how nutritious and healthy our Avocado is for consumers; that is the fundamental axis."
Then, he added, "to differentiate the Mexican fruit, we have the Avocados from Mexico brand, which in addition to being nutritious and healthy is always in season, as Mexico is the only country that can supply the market during the 52 weeks of the year. It Is the only nation that exports avocados all year round," he said.
"In addition, our products are always fresh because its the fastest to arrive to the American markets, as we are so near that market. We even export to New York or Chicago in less time than the production of California so our fruits are always delicious," he stated.
The seal that distinguishes the Mexican avocado is its flavor, that the fruit is much fresher and that it is harvested with a very good degree of maturity.
"Our season runs from July 1 to June 30 so we are about to close the 2016-2017 season. We still don't have any final data, but we estimate that we exported around 740 thousand tons this year, which would amount to $2.2 or $ 2.3 billion dollars for Mexico," he said.
Regarding the variation of avocado prices in the country, Paz Vega said the product was still expensive and that it would probably continue to be expensive for a month or a month and a half because prices mainly obeyed the supply and demand rules, as the markets were consuming more and more avocados.
The price also varies because of the different varieties of avocado that there are, "they are different and have different quality levels, and sizes. Some have more demand in some markets and some have less demand, the difference in prices obeys mainly to the fruit's size and quality."
Moreover, he said that there was a good demand for avocado in Mexico and that the demand in the United States was growing by 15 to 20 percent each year. In Japan demand grew by 24 percent in 2016, in Canada by 17 percent, and in Europe by more than 20 percent.
Paz Vega also said that this year Mexican production of avocado, in particular Michoacan, was 20 percent lower than in the previous year because of natural reasons. This fruit's production fluctuates over the years, some years the trees produce more and other years they produce less. This created an imbalance between the amount offered and the demand, which has put pressure on prices.
In addition, he continued, every year "our production is slightly lower between the end of April and June, because the product comes from the coldest areas of Michoacan, so the availability decreases and at this time we have a little less than avocado than in the rest of the year."
Mexico is the biggest producer of avocados in the world. "We produce 50 percent of the world's total exports, all of these markets, including Mexico, are increasingly demanding more and more avocado," he said.
He emphasized that in the US market, the second biggest suppliers was Peru, after California and Chile. In Europe the main suppliers are Peru, South Africa, Israel, Spain, and Kenya.
"The biggest suppliers In Asia are Mexico, Peru, Chile, and New Zealand. Mexico exports more than all the other countries together. Our fruit accounts for 80 percent of the US market, and more than 90 percent of the market in Japan and in Canada," he said.
"This means that we lead the international avocado trade, the other nations don't account for half of the production," he stated.
He stressed that this activity was very important socially, because "there are about 100 thousand families in Michoacan that have a decent, productive way of life and are not thinking about migrating, thanks to avocado production. In the 1990s the entity had more workers in the United States than here and today many people are coming back and are staying."
"These are not people who live at poverty levels. They have a reasonable standard of living, avocado represents more than half of the economy of the agricultural sector of the state," he said.
Moreover, the Association of Avocado Producers and Packing Exporters of Mexico (APEAM) supports social programs in education and the environment investing around six million pesos a year, as a complement to its work to promote and commercialize this fruit worldwide.
Paz Vega said, "we have a social responsibility program and we work with a reforestation program, we also support the Lazos Foundation to improve the education of primary schools in the avocado producing municipalities of Michoacan."
He said they had been supporting this program for six years. "It is a program in which the association supports primary schools with school materials for children, training for teachers, infrastructure works and some educational centers have been equipped with computers."
According to data from the APEAM, to date they have sponsored 2,769 children in 13 schools in 11 avocado producing municipalities in Michoacan. Of these, a total of 629 have graduated, which promotes the development of the state and the country.
Paz Vega also said that the first full-generation recently graduated from primary school level, and that they planned to continue working with them in the years to come.
In addition, they have a reforestation program since 2011. "We have a nursery in which to date we have planted more than half a million pine trees. This year we are expecting the rains to normalize to plant 260 thousand pines, and in 2018 we plan to plant about 300 thousand. "
He said this work mainly generated temporary jobs when the plantations were realized.
"We make agreements with the communities, we provide the pines, we generate the direct jobs of the nursery, but it is the local communities that plant and take care of the pines," he said.
He said that this program had helped them rescue 425 hectares of land. This project aims to prepare land for reforestation, increase the recharge of aquifers, improve air quality, capture carbon, and reduce the greenhouse effect; it even seeks to reduce the loss of soil and landslides that may occur in the rainy season.
Source: Notimex / 24-horas.mx