Mexico is the largest exporter of avocados in the world. A third of the avocados produced globally come from this Central American country, and 8 out of every 10 avocados that are consumed in the US, the largest market for this fruit, are Mexican, according to the Agricultural Market Consulting Group (GCMA).
Mexico produced an estimated 2,267.88 million avocados in 2019, 3.8% more than the previous year. Of this volume, 56% was for export (6.3% more than in the previous year), representing 3.069 billion dollars.
Mexican producers and exporters, which have already consolidated the US market, have their eyes set on other markets with high purchasing power, such as China, Japan, and Europe.
In 2016, Mexico exported 68,500 tons of avocado to Japan, and last year, China bought more than 30,000 tons of avocado from Latin America, 40% of which came from Mexico. This boom, however, decreased in recent years, due to the lack of capacity to supply the volumes demanded from overseas and transportation difficulties; while transfers to the US are carried out by truck, transporting the avocados to distant countries involves maritime transport and freezing the fruit, as it is a product that matures quickly.
The temperature to transport avocado, depending on the time of the transfer, is estimated from 5 to 13 °C for those that are still green and from 2 to 4 °C for ripe avocados.
The demand in the European market has increased, but supply has become scarce and seasonal. This has led to an increase in prices, which have exceeded 20 euro per box. According to Juan Carlos Anaya, the general director of the GCMA, the sector must take into account two particularities of the European market if they want this market to be sustainable and to expand it.
The first factor is that, due to the distance, the product cannot be exported fresh: it may be better to transport guacamole, and also give added value to exports.
The second factor is the ability to meet demand. “We stop selling avocados to Europe when the US purchases them. This cannot be, we have to be consistent with our shipments if we want to keep the European consumer,” he added.
In the end, avocados face the dilemma of diversifying their exports to new territories that buy little - in proportion - and require more investment to move the product, or keep the US, which receives about one million tons of Mexican avocados a year, well-stocked.