The 2020 Peruvian avocado season started in late April, with large shipments to Europe and small shipments to the US arriving in early May. Xavier Equihua, President of Avocados From Peru, says: “This year Peru will have promotable volumes in the US from mid-June all the way to early October. This will be a win-win for retailers as Peru will be able to supply them with excellent fruit during the transitional month of September.”
Strategic production window for US market
Peru’s two main markets are Europe and the US. The Peruvian season falls into a very good window in the US, during the start of Mexico’s off-season. Equihua says: “Looking forward, we could actually see Peru shipping more fruit to the US in May – similar to the Peruvian window in Europe. In Europe, there are a lot of different origins supplying the market, and in a way each of these origins are complimentary. In the US, on the other hand, there are only three origins now supplying the market: Peru, California and Mexico. The Mexican season has its off months during the same window that Peru’s season is in full gear. While the California season runs somewhat parallel to the Peruvian season, the California volumes are more west-coast centric, while Peru can easily supply throughout the entire country.”
Currently, about 60% of Peru’s avocado supplies go into Europe, with the US receiving another 30% and the final 10% being distributed over other destinations. “In Europe, when you look at the consumption per country you see that the bulk of the consumption is in about 12 countries. This means that there are about 16 other countries that aren’t consuming as many avocados as they should and therefore the growth potential in Europe is amazing,” Equihua shares.
Peru’s geographic location also allows it to easily ship the avocados throughout the world, even shipping some volumes to India. “We see great potential in the US market. In the past four years, the market has been rather static with little to no growth, but this year we are hoping for an increase in total volumes for the category. Last year was on an off-year for global avocado production and hence the reason why Peru only shipped 187 million pounds to the US. This year it’s an on-year and we expect Peru to easily export 200 million pounds to the US,” Equihua explains.
Photo: Xavier Equihua
Great demand even during pandemic
Throughout the pandemic, though there have been challenges for Peru’s avocado producers, the overall production continued on at its normal pace. “Social distancing protocols have been established in Peru and this has made the harvest, packing and shipping more difficult. But the private sector and the government have been working hand-in-hand to assure both safety and efficiency. It has been a challenge, but it’s been good, we were well prepared,” says Equihua.
Overall, avocado demand hasn’t had much to suffer during the pandemic. Equihua says: “The consumption was flat for a few weeks in March, when the entire industry was feeling the effects. But after that initial slump the demand soared. All of the losses in volume that are usually destined for foodservice were being made up by consumers buying avocados at retail. We also found that the avocados in mesh bags were even more popular than ever. In Europe, too, we’ve seen basically non-stop consumption at amazing prices during April and May.”
“The avocado production in Peru continues to increase and expand. There is a lot of land that will be coming into production in the coming years, and we’re looking forward to continue to expand our presence in diverse markets as well as growing the overall avocado consumption throughout the world,” Equihua concludes.