This season was characterized as an off year for the Southern Hemisphere window, so in years like this the unprogrammed or market price orientated markets perform strongly – USA and the traded market in Europe and Asia, making it difficult for more fixed price markets like the UK, according to Rob Cullum from Pacific Produce.
"It comes down to strategy and long term vision as to the type of grower you are. We are long term already 3rd generation avocado growers in Peru (the 4th is very close now too) so we do not deviate from our strategy for short term gain," explains Rob.
Pacific Produce's season ended with mid October arrivals which is quite late, main Peruvian volumes finished a month or so earlier. "At Pacific we handled just over 200 containers this year, we are not a monster supplier – our focus is a long season with good internal quality. We are increasing every year but with a manageable percentage with the aim of maintaining quality."
Peru is without doubt the big player in the Southern Hemisphere, the statistics change every year of course with big plantations happening all over the world but looking at a recent survey on Freshplaza last week, (Source: worldstopexports.com), then Peru is more than double the volume of Chile, 5 times the size of South Africa and 13 times the size of Columbia.
The Chilean season is not directly competing with Peru. "Peru is still planting so I don’t see South Africa or Columbia catching up in the short term. The big noises recently seem to be coming from Columbia with some exciting sounding numbers being talked about and with a year round capability this is very interesting, however market access, size profiling and internal consistency are all factors that will play a part," said Rob.
There is a lot of talk about supply, not demand being a problem in coming years, according to Rob who does not profess to being an expert on the subject: "There are far more qualified people than me to talk about the global avocado supply/demand balance. From our point of view we are listening to our customers – they want more fruit from us and want internal quality and consistency from a supplier that they can rely on in good times and bad times, a supplier that will meet all the technical and ethical standards that can allow the customer to focus on the fruit and not worry about these issues.
"The total volume being planted is always a concern for any product as there will inevitably be periods of over-supply in the future – sometimes it will be seasons or “on years” and other times it will be patches within a season. So we have to strike a balance of being a good supplier and relying on our customers to stick with us as we will with them. Efficiency on the farm and through the chain will play a key part too in the difficult moments.