Avocado volumes are surprisingly low on the market, says Ricardo Kotze, avocado specialist at BothaRoodt market agency at the Johannesburg fresh produce market.
“We’ve received the first Fuerte, mostly from Tzaneen. There was a little bit from Kenya, just a handful of pallets, at the beginning of January. For the moment there are just drips and drabs and we haven’t had the volumes we’ve had in previous years at this time of the early season.”
Delays in offloading Spanish avocados due to wind at Cape Town harbour have led to ripening facilities forced to procure avocados on the municipal markets or directly from farmers.
Ricardo says that avocado volumes currently on the market are less than he would’ve expected. Last year there was a lot of early Fuerte but this year the season is taking a bit longer to start up as Limpopo avocado growers wait for moisture and oil levels to come on par.
“Avocados have come on a bit later and that extra two or two-and-a-half weeks of low avocado supply have held up prices nicely.”
He notes that the quality of fruit on the market has been well-controlled by the maturity testing performed by officials of the South African Avocado Growers’ Association (SAAGA). “Market floor buyers appear to be sticking to quality. I appreciate the vigilance to ensure good quality among early avocados.”
Average prices are currently R230 (11.9 euros) to R260 (13.5 euros) per box for good quality fruit, but Ricardo predicts it to come down to R120 (6.2 euros) to R140 (7.28 euros) a box during coming weeks.
“At the beginning of the season there was a lot of large fruit on the late Fuerte, but the season will start with smaller fruit.”
“Last year was horrible, with volumes being down. This year some growers tell me it’s going to be a very good year, while others have a wait and see attitude. You never know, one hailstorm can make a lot of difference. Also, South American avocado volumes affect our export market.”
Last year South African avocado exports to the Middle East picked up. Exports will relieve pressure from the local market in what is expected to be an on-year in terms of yield.
He regards R70 (3.6 euros) or R80 (4.1 euros) a box as a good average price during the peak avocado season.