The fresh avocado market comes with limits. Whether it’s a limited supply compared to a growing demand or the short shelf life leading to significant food waste, the sector has to deal with many challenges.
According to Svetlana Plotean, marketing manager for IQF freezing line supplier OctoFrost, the challenges of the avocado market can mostly be solved by IQF freezing the produce: “A solution to some of the challenges that fresh avocados bring to the table, would be to IQF freeze them. There are more avocado varieties suited for this freezing process than there are varieties suitable for fresh export. It would mean a significant increase in supply for the avocado growers. At the same time the customer’s need for more convenience can be satisfied by always having a perfectly ripened and flavorful IQF frozen avocado in the fridge. The food waste is also tackled, as consumers can simply defrost the exact amount that is needed, while suppliers reduce waste in the logistics chain.”
Reports on the avocado market show that big markets such as China and Western Europe are rapidly developing a taste for avocado. Over the past few years, China has increased its avocado imports by more than 1,000 times and this number is projected to continue to grow. Plotean says the other markets aren’t growing anywhere near as fast by comparison: “The consumption of avocados in Europe did increase, but only by 150 per cent in the last decade. This is about three times less than the development in the United States, studies on the avocado consumption show. This represents room for development and growth for the avocado suppliers.”
The thicker skin and ability to be shipped to distant markets make the Haas avocados the most suitable for fresh export. According to Plotean, there are many other varieties consumers should explore. “There are many more great tasting varieties out there, like Fuerte or Reina for example. These varieties are larger and have more meat, which makes them more profitable per hectare. Their thinner skins make them less suitable for export, however. Luckily when it comes to IQF avocado, the thickness of the skin is not a factor. With the correct pre-treatment and optimal IQF freezer, any variety of avocado can be flavorful, natural looking and ready-to-eat as they arrive at the consumer as a frozen avocado.”
The technology to be able to freeze ripe avocados wasn’t all that great before IQF freezing came around, says Plotean. “Years back processors could have been struggling with bad freezing technologies, forcing them to freeze under-ripe avocados. However, today modern IQF technologies make it possible to perfectly freeze a ripe avocado right at the source of harvest. It might not be known to quite some avocado growers than their product can actually be IQF frozen, but quite some visionary entrepreneurs have already taken advantage of this business opportunity. They are already supplying premium IQF avocado to some of the biggest retail chains and businesses in the world.”
OctoFrost Group has supplied their IQF technology to many successful avocado processors around the world. “In addition, the OctoFrost Link platform has enabled processors to find new business partners, which in some cases helped customers increase their production and sales of IQF avocado by as much as 30 per cent. This shows the huge potential this market still has and we’re there to support and help our customers nurture this potential.” Plotean concludes.