The unstoppable growth of avocados continues in the markets, and this rising supply doesn't seem to be having an impact on the demand, which appears to have no limits. For this reason, the crop has become essential for many fruit and vegetable suppliers.
The Almeria-based company Agroatlas, a specialist in the cultivation and marketing of green beans and other vegetables and specialties, has made a strong commitment to avocados, embarking on an ambitious project to expand its production to Mexico.
"After 9 years of maintaining relationships with suppliers in Mexico, especially of avocados, we have decided to invest in the country and have signed a joint venture contract with a Mexican producer in the region of Nayarit. We will therefore have our own production of avocados on about 250 hectares, as well as of mangoes on 100 hectares," says Richi Menoyo, commercial director of Agroatlas.
"The Mexican company will be in charge of production, farm and quality control and packaging, and we will take care of the logistics and sales. This is the first step towards the creation of a joint venture in the future, but for now, we believe that the most important thing is to be producers, and what better way is there to do this but hand in hand with a company that is familiar with the area and will keep an eye on everything on our behalf."
In Mexico, Agroatlas expects to harvest between 4 and 5 million kilos of avocados and between 800,000 and 1 million kilos of mangoes this year. These will be marketed by retailers across Europe, where the firm is already present with its current range of products. "The Hass avocado campaign in Nayarit will start in September (a couple of months before the Spanish one, which kicks off in November/December) and will continue until March. As for the mangoes, we will start in May with the Ataulfo variety, which will be followed in June, July and August by the Kent and Keitt varieties, which are the most marketed in Europe. The mango season ends in Nayarit by the time the Spanish season begins, so there will be no overlapping problems between the two seasons," said Ricardo.
Agroatlas' project has not only aroused the interest of the region's producers, but also of the state authorities. Juan Kelly, Nayarit's Secretary of Rural Development, also participated in a meeting held by Richi Menoyo and José Manuel Jurado, the company's exotics specialist, with partner growers in Mexico, showing his support for this initiative and the Spanish company's investment in the region. "Nayarit is not as well-known as Michoacán in terms of avocado production, but it delivers Hass avocados of the highest quality," said Menoyo.
In Mexico, the Agroatlas project has also been supported by FIRA, a government institution devoted to promoting the development of the country's rural sectors by facilitating access to credit. It offers producers very low-interest loans for investments in technology.
"At the meeting, we explained to the growers that anyone willing to join our project is welcome. They will have institutional support and funding for the fertilization of the trees, as we aim for the fruit to have an exceptional quality and for it to reach Europe in perfect condition, especially after a long 23-day voyage at sea," says Richi Menoyo. "We have told our partners and the producers that it will be required to work with certifications, both GlobalG.A.P. and the SMETA social audit. That is the starting point to ensure the partnership is sustainable."
Avocado marketing could be expanded in the future by growing avocados in Morocco.
The Spanish company has its own facilities and vegetable plantations in Morocco, a country with a quickly growing prominence in the fruit and vegetable industry, and which should also be taken into account when it comes to avocado cultivation in the Mediterranean.
Morocco enters the market with its fruit in late December, which offers an interesting window to extend the campaign. "The issue is being discussed and I don't think it will take long for us to make it a reality," says the commercial director of Agroatlas. "Avocados are a product with great current and future prospects."
Logistics as part of the business
"For years, our company has understood that the quality of the product is the most essential part of our business, but we have done a great job specializing in the logistics, which we understand as the other big part of it, in order to achieve our goals," says Richi Menoyo.
"We have done a great job together with our freight forwarders, developing the best air and sea lines for our products. This has allowed us to guarantee the meeting of our delivery deadlines," he says.