At the moment, the only important overseas market for Colombian Hass avocados is the EU, where the country exported 72 containers during the 2013 season, which accounted for nearly 100% of its exports.
It was recently announced that the long-awaited opening of the U.S. market will soon become a reality.
"I think the United States is a natural market for Colombia; right now we only have the European market and that is risky," said Jean Pierre Coulet, secretary of CORPOHASS, the Corporation of Colombian Producers and Exporters of Avocado Hass, who has been working as an interlocutor between the governments of both countries to help overcome the phytosanitary barriers imposed by the North American country.
"This season, for bureaucratic reasons, we won't yet be able to enter, but I believe the first shipment of Colombian Hass avocados will arrive next year," said Jean Pierre, adding that "in the U.S. we'll have to focus on niche markets because we'll be competing directly with Mexico."
The Colombian season now extends from September to April, but in the long-term the country expects to be able to produce exportable Hass avocados throughout the year, just like Mexico.
For this year's campaign, which is only just starting, the country expects to export over 150 containers, about 3,500 tonnes, which would mean an increase of over 100% compared to 2013.
While there are about 9,500 hectares planted with avocado Hass in Colombia, much of the Hass avocado production of Hass cannot be exported due to lack of professionalism and ends up in the huge domestic market, where prices are much lower because of oversupply and competition with other avocado varieties
"The activity is going to grow very rapidly; there is still a lot of production that cannot be exported because it is not professionalised and there are also many young plantations," he affirms.
Regarding the growth of Hass avocado production in Colombia, Jean Pierre says that "two years ago, someone who owned 1,000 trees was considered a big producer; nowadays, however, it is normal to find professional plantations with 30,000 trees."
Along this dramatic increase in plantings, export volumes, according to CORPOHASS, are expected to grow by 600% within the next three years, reaching more than a thousand containers per season.
Jean Pierre CouletCORPOHASS
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