Auspicious outlook on the cusp of the South African avocado season

In 2016 there was hail, last year there was drought but this year looks to be a shining year for South African avocados. An increase of 5 million or 5.5 million 4kg export cartons is expected from last year’s 11 million 4kg cartons and thus far, favourable weather conditions are pointing in the right direction.

Many young avocado orchards are coming into production

The season is just kicking off in the warmer areas of Limpopo Province like Mooketsi and Levubu with Fuerte and Maluma, and the very first export consignments have left to reach the market in week 12. Early South African exports are primarily Fuerte. The South African harvest will get underway in all earnest by the beginning of March.

ZZ2 harvests some of the first Maluma avocados, a South African Hass-type cultivar, of the season. This allows them to provide the European market with a Hass-type avocado at a time when there is a huge window for Hass in Europe and prices are excellent. Apart from the early Mooketsi area, the company also grows avocados around Tzaneen, Politsi and Houtboschdorp (Magoebaskloof) and have about doubled their avocado acreage over the past five years to reach 1,000ha of avocados in a Hass: greenskin ratio of 60:40.

Last year sizing was a challenge, due to the drought, but ZZ2 is currently peaking at sizes 12 to 16, says Clive Garrett, ZZ2 marketing manager.

South African greenskinned avocados are primarily destined for Russia, Eastern and Southern European countries, but there, too, demand for Hass is growing. 

Allesbeste Boerdery, the owners and developers of the Maluma avocado, are hosting their annual Maluma Day next week and international interest in the cultivar has never been as strong, as evidenced by the sizeable foreign contingent confirmed for this year’s event. In their area of Tzaneen, avocado harvesting could start towards the end of the week.

The South African avocado industry is waiting for bilateral negotiations on pears to conclude, for work to start on access for South African avocados to China. At present the bulk of South African avocados still go to the EU, a market which is growing at a brisk clip, not least because of the work done by the World Avocado Organisation in which South Africa and Peru are driving forces.

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