The avocado has an undisputed leadership in Peruvian agricultural exports: shipments up until September of this year surpass the US $700 million and there are many projects to increase the areas of cultivation.
However, months ago, there was a significant drop in prices in Europe, the main destination of the Peruvian fruit; a box went from costing 16 euro to 4 euro, according to various sources in the sector.
Paula Carrion, the manager of agricultural exports of ADEX, said this situation was caused by the convergence of the production of several suppliers at the same time in the European market, which led to a decrease in prices that affected exporters.
"We must have more control on the volumes being sent to certain markets. Perhaps, we should find out what volume the market supports before prices drop and limit the amount of containers shipped out so that prices don't fall. Otherwise, we're going to have lower prices because there are going to be other countries that also send avocados to Europe," she said.
In this scenario, she also recommended diversifying export markets to avoid sending so much volume to Europe or the United States (China is also growing as a destination). This advice is especially important for small exporters who can try their luck in new regions of Asia and the Middle East, highlighting the quality of the Peruvian avocado, which already has gained a name thanks to its flavor and texture, in a context in which more and more people are worried about eating healthily.
Potential and boom
Paula Carrion said that China was establishing itself as one of the main markets for Peruvian agricultural exports in general, to the point that it has become the second most important destination for the country's grapes and there has been an important boom in blueberry shipments, since the signing of a phytosanitary protocol with that country a year and a half ago. As a result, Peru has become the third largest exporter of blueberries today.
The specialist said that this year had been good for the sector and that exports would amount to US $6.8 billion, i.e. 13% more than in the previous year, driven mainly by shipments of fruits and vegetables. "We achieved a double-digit growth, something that hadn't happened for a few years. We expect it to continue so that we can surpass our US $10 billion (in agro-exports) goal by 2021," she said.
Finally, when asked about the problem that mango producers in the north of Peru are facing due to the low prices they receive for the fruit, she said they needed to study the situation to understand what factor is failing, as fruit prices in general have been competitive and have allowed developing their production.
"Agricultural exports take place according to what the target market requires, if our product doesn't have the quality, size, or flavor that a market is looking for, they will pay us less for it. We must analyze why we're having these lower prices," he said.