This year, Chile's avocado production was already expected to be lower than last season's, but the effects of drought have made things worse, leading to a gradual reduction in the acreage. Juan Enrique Lazo, general manager of the Hass Avocado Committee of Chile, states that "the initial estimate of 150,000 tonnes (compared to 230,000 last year) will eventually be reduced to less than 140,000."
Juan affirms that "until mid-season, we have exported less than 40,000 tonnes," which is also far from the initial estimate of 70,000. Moreover, the scarcity of water in the Fourth and Fifth Regions, which last season accounted for 13 and 65% of the country's Hass exports respectively, will result in reduced calibres.
Drought has not only affected avocados, but also other crops that are important for the area. "The first plantations affected were those of avocados, then citrus and finally grapes. It's very dramatic and I hope the situation will reverse," says Juan Enrique. "The problem is that the regions that need the most water are also those with the most scarcity."
Juan Enrique explains that even though the Fourth Region has a very efficient system of reservoirs, this is not sufficient to compensate for the lack of rainfall. Juan Enrique adds that "in the Fifth Region there are development projects for the construction of dams that have not been carried out, and we, at the Avocado Committee, are regularly meeting with the Ministry of Agriculture to make them a reality."
Acreage devoted to Hass avocado production by regions in hectares
It is a problem that, according to Juan Enrique, needs to be addressed, as demand for Chilean avocados, which have considerable international prestige, continues to increase, "with new destinations, like China, on top of Brazil, which is already a big market, and Europe, which pays an FOB price of between 7 and 8 Euro per box."