Lior Gal, the head of international trade at Galilee Export, sources avocado from all over the world for the Israeli export company. This is Galilee Export’s main product. “We supply avocados for twelve months of the year. I source them from Kenya, Chile, Mexico, South Africa and Peru and I bring them to Europe. I serve our clients with avocados all year round because that is what they demand.”
According to Lior, the avocado market has been interesting this year. “Peru and South Africa both had very high volumes, and they stayed in the market for a longer period than usual. We saw prices that we have not seen in quite a few years.”
“These prices were on the low end. Greenskin started at the low end, EUR5 or EUR6 per 4kg box because of the high availability of Hass . In comparison, last season, in October, we sold ripened Hass, packed for the supermarket at between EUR15 and EUR16 per 4kg box. In October this year, these went for around EUR7. That is a big difference.”
The avocados are washed after being harvested from the field
Prices finally up
“Finally, Peru and South Africa moved out of the market and prices went up a little”, says Lior. “If next year is the same, which I think it will be since Peru’s production is increasing, this might be the price in peak season. Peru can sustain growth with lower returns. Israel can't. Fortunately, our season is opposite to theirs.”
“Greenskins – Pinkertons are currently selling at around EUR8 per 4kg box in Europe. Hass is at EUR11 or EUR12 per 4kg box. So, prices are good at the moment”, continues Lior. “The Hass variety is more well-known to European consumers. They are more comfortable with it - when it is brown, you can eat it; when it is green, you have to wait.”
The avocados are sorted by size by machines (left), and the equal sizes make their way on the belt towards the packers (right)
In general, from what Lior understands, the demand for the Hass variety is growing while the market for Greenskins is holding steady. “All the growers are planting more Hass.” He says Chile and Spain are their biggest competitors. “Colombia is not quite there yet in terms of size and quality.”
He says Spain is like Israel. “They are a steady market. They are not going to grow rapidly. They also need good returns because they go to Europe. As long as our competition remains Spain and Chile, we will know how to handle it. I believe prices will stay at the high end.”
The packers decide if these avocados are destined for the local market or for export by checking the quality of the shell
Other avocado-producing countries
If more big companies in Kenya start growing, packing, and shipping their own product, Lior thinks they can have an influence on the global avocado market.
“Mexico exports mainly to the US. They prefer not to go all the way to Europe due to the long transit period. Their main market is the US and the prices in Mexico are set by the US market. The region of Michoacán in Mexico is the most important region. Here, more than 90% of production takes place with the remaining ten percent is mainly in Jalisco. This small area is currently not allowed into the US and focuses its exports on Europe, Canada and Japan. If, and when, Michoacán turn their gaze to Europe, the export of Isreali avocados will be in trouble.”
Lior shows off a nice box of greenskin avocados
Production per hectare for Hass avocados in Israel is between 1,5 and two tons per dunum, which is 0,1 hectare. Lior says in Peru; this is between 1.5 and 2,5 tons, depending on the growing area and the quality of the water.
Labor is not such a big issue for avocado growers as it is not a labor-intensive crop. He says there will be about 90 000 tons of Israeli avocados available for export this year from November to March.