While avocados are produced year-round in Mexico, the country’s high season began in October and lasts through mid-March. The avocado consumption in Europe has been on the rise the past few years, and while attending Fruit Attraction in Madrid, Juan Escorcia from Jalisco-based avocado packing company Avocados Aguirre met with the secretary of agriculture for Spain.
Meeting with the Secretary of Economy
The meeting was set up by APEAJAL – the association for the production and exporting of Jalisco avocados – and was attended largely by avocado and berry producers. Juan says: “Jalisco is the number one exporter of agricultural products in Mexico and we have a good relationship with Europe. One major challenge with engaging in international trade is that you have to understand each other – you need to understand the context of the politics of the country the product is grown in, as well as the growing conditions, climate, etc. and then you also have to understand the destination and their import protocols. So meetings like this are always very productive in furthering this kind of understanding between each other.”
During the meeting, one of the main topics that was addressed was the pricing of the Mexican avocados. “Last year, a 4 kilo box of avocados cost around €16 but this year the price has risen to €18-20. This means that a kilo of avocados is being sold for around €5, which is more expensive than the avocados from other origins that are present on the European market. The simple explanation for this is that the demand exceeds the supply coming out of Mexico. This isn’t because we aren’t producing enough, but it is because the standards for exporting our product to Europe are really high and there are many hurdles and challenges preventing us from supplying them with more product,” Juan says.
Successful meeting at Fruit Attraction
He explains: “The main difficulty comes from the MLRs, the certifications, and the sizes. Out of every 10 growers, maybe 2 or 3 will meet the MLR requirements, but then out of those, only one will also have the additional Global GAP certification that European countries require. Finally, that one grower can only sent a small selection of his entire harvest to Europe because they want large sizes – twelves through eighteens. So supplying to Europe is very difficult, not because we don’t have the volumes but because of the hurdles. Some countries have even higher requirements – specifically Germany and the United Kingdom.”
“The majority of the Jalisco avocado supplies are going into Canada and Japan. Other big markets are Hong Kong and the Middle East. The supplies going into Europe are much lower than they could be, even though the demand is high; we ship a good amount of avocados there, just not the volumes that we could be shipping. The meeting with the Spanish secretary was very productive in getting a sense of the different perspectives at play,” Juan concludes.