Abdelkader Benchagra has worked in the Dutch fruit and vegetable sector for years. Last year, he started Mister Avocado. The company's main product is Moroccan avocados. Other Moroccan products supplement these. For example, the first Moroccan watermelons will arrive soon. "But avocados will always remain the core business. We want to start with other countries of origin soon. But, first, we want to build a good name with our Moroccan avocados."
"My Moroccan partners have a wide grower network. We do not only have our own cultivation. We also buy out entire plots. We then harvest, pack, sort, cool, and export the avocados. Our people manage everything - from the tree to delivery in the Netherlands. We only pack the truly export-suitable products," says Abdelkader, who has an office in Ridderkerk. "We focus more on partnerships and long-term business, instead of daily avocado trade."
At Mister Avocado, the Moroccan avocado season ended at the end of March. "The season was characterized by huge fluctuations. In December, the product was first costly, then the market crashed. From January, it has been fairly stable. We stopped with supplies at the end of March. This was due to the corona crisis and other countries of origins getting started."
Moroccan avocado cultivation offers excellent growth potential, says the importer. "Climate-wise, the country is on par with Spanish avocados. Morocco is an attractive player for the European market. The season starts just as Chile is done and Peru is about to begin. It often corresponds to shortages in the market. Then Moroccan avocados are in high demand. We now focus mainly on wholesalers. But, in the future, we want to supply supermarkets too," Abdelkader says.
"From Morocco, supply from the field to the supermarket is done in one week. That is a big advantage over the South American product. We can supply Moroccan avocados, straight from the tree, for six months. The chain could not be shorter. Our clients are already demanding we offer supplemental overseas avocados. We are carefully considering this. We want Mister Avocado first to make a name with Moroccan avocados. I have to disappoint people who compare products purely on price. Moroccan avocados are pricier than, say, Kenyan ones. But you cannot compare them."
According to Abdelkader, the avocado market is not nearly saturated. "Consumption is still growing enormously. People appreciate the product's healthy characteristics. It also has so many uses. Its growth potential is, therefore, still huge. But Morocco has more to offer. We will, for instance, soon have watermelons available. That is under our Frukto label. The current melon market is not great. Our wholesalers can, however, not wait for the season to start."