Derek Donkin of the South African Avocado Growers’ Association (SAAGA) has issued a statement, saying: “While we eagerly await the start of the 2021 avocado season, there is a shortage of avocados in the South African market. And when there is a shortage, prices are high. High prices often result in two undesirable spin-offs: Unscrupulous growers harvesting and selling immature fruit which will not ripen properly, and theft.”
Letabaherald.co.za quoted Donkin as saying: If you see Fuerte avocados for sale in January in your local retailer or on the roadside, be very wary; there is a good chance that this fruit will not ripen and it may have been stolen. There may be some “out of season” Fuerte avocados which may ripen.”
According to Donkin, out of season Fuerte avocados will be darker in colour and not as shiny as immature fruit. It is unlikely that this fruit will be sold on the road-side.
“Another useful guideline is to see whether there is still a stalk attached to the fruit. If there is small stalk or stump attached, it is likely that the fruit has been properly harvested. If the stem is not present it is likely that the fruit has been stolen. Good farmers will not snap their fruit off the tree; they cut it off with some of the stem remaining attached to the fruit. Avocado thieves, on the other hand, snap the fruit off the trees without the stem as this is far quicker than cutting each stem.”
He says that if consumers do buy avocados in January, they must be on the lookout for the signs of immature and stolen fruit. “If the fruit does not ripen, take it back and request a refund.”
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