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Chilean avocado exports rises due to rain

The Chilean avocado export has grown explosively. Between January and September this year exports increased in volume by 43 percent and by 62 percent in value. The main reason for this is the larger yield as a result of the good rainfall this year and last year. The sales to all export markets rose. For the Chinese market Chile was the largest supplier and the country now surpasses Mexico, who had the title last year. This is according to a report by the USDA.


The area in Chile has been shrinking since 2007, but this declining trend has slowed down since 2013. That year the South American country had 30,330 hectares of avocado cultivation. In 2016 this had decreased to 29,319 hectares. Around 65 percent of the area can be found in the region Valparaiso. The regions Metropolitan and Coquimbo are both worth another 15 percent of the area. The Chilean Hass avocado can be found on most of the plantations. This variety is on 88 percent of the total area. The variety is sensitive to low temperatures and frost, which limits the number of locations the variety can be grown at. The plantations can be found on the slopes with the lowest chance of frost and the temperature is higher than on the plains. Other varieties are also grown for the domestic market, such as Edranol, Negra de la Cruz and Fuerte.

More rain, more yield
Over the last eight years water shortages and drought were the main limiting factors in increasing the production. In the market years 2016 and 2017 a lot of rain fell, which meant growers could store water for irrigation. This resulted in a higher production, despite the shrinking area. According to the Chilean avocado committee 215,000 tonnes of avocados were harvested in 2016/2017 (the season runs from July to June). For the year 2017/2018 that volume is estimated at 220,000 tonnes.

Avocado is one of the few fruit varieties grown in Chile and marketed domestically. Most of the fruit cultivation is focused on exports. Slightly less than half of the production, around 65,000 tonnes finds its way to the domestic market. In the season 2016/2017 that was around 30 percent, as a larger volume was harvested. Besides domestic production the avocado is imported from Peru, Mexico and the US in the counter-season (April-August). Due to the larger volume available this year the import halved between January and September.

Growing export
Between January and September of this year the export grew by 42.9 percent in volume and 61.7 percent in value. This is 90,985 tonnes and 197.5 million dollars. The main sales market for the avocados is the US, followed by the Netherlands, Argentina, China and the United Kingdom. In the first eight months of this year the export to the US rose by 158.5 percent in volume to 23,070 tonnes and 219 percent in value to 58.8 million dollars. Partially because Mexico had a smaller harvest, space was created on the American market for the Chilean avocados.

In the market year 2017 the export to Spain rose by 37.7 percent in volume. The British market bought 3.4 percent more volume. The export to the Netherlands rose slightly by 0.7 percent. The demand for Chilean avocado in Europe continues to grow, but the figures aren't as impressive as for other markets. The export to Argentina for instance rose by 50.5 percent in volume and this is expected to remain a good market. The Chinese market bought 76.5 percent more avocados from Chilean exporters in that same market year and that market will also continue to grow in the future.

The Chinese demand for Chilean avocado is rising and most of the Chilean promotion budget is spent on this Asian market. The campaigns focus on consumers and can be found at on Chinese shop floors. Social media is also used to increase the consumption. Chile surpassed Mexico this year as China's largest avocado supplier. In April of this year Chile and India signed an agreement to give the export to India shape. The country is also working on access to South Korea, a process that will take another few years. For the market year 2018 the export is estimated at 155,000 tonnes, the volume is expected to be 5 percent higher. The domestic consumption remains stable at 65,000 tonnes.

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