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Evy van Gastel, Special Fruit, Belgium

"On-year, delays, and more plantings expected to put pressure on avocado prices"

This is an on-year in most avocado-growing countries. That means there is currently a large supply of avocados on the market. "In particularly Chile, the difference in supply is huge compared to last year. That country had a tiny harvest last year, so they stopped exporting to Europe in December," Evy van Gastel of the Belgian company, Special Fruit says.

"That caused quite a lot of drama for us. Chile is an important supplier at that time of year. We usually get avocados from there until late March/early April. So, we had to fall back on avocados from Mediterranean countries like Spain, Israel, Morocco, and Portugal. They're known for their high prices. Fortunately, we had a backup of Colombian avocados."

"This year's situation is, luckily, very different. Chile has much more product available, although the local market is again very strong. But there are enough avocados left for export. Colombia, too, is booming as an avocado-growing country. Chile has limited growth in new plantings. Colombia, however, is doubling its export volume every year. Avocados from those origins are now arriving at the same time. That's now resulting in a sharp drop in market prices," continues Evy.

Special Fruit is now selling the last of its Peruvian avocados. And it is already offering the Israeli Hass variety. "There's plenty of supply. The first Moroccan avocados are on the market. And Spain will begin with Hass avocados in mid-December. These contain good amounts of dry matter. Portugal will join, and Israel is also starting to export more. So, I expect avocado prices to come under serious pressure soon."

"But I'm not pessimistic about avocado sales. The Peruvian season went pretty well for us. Although that country exported 30% more globally and 11% more to Europe, the market held up nicely. But, delays are a huge problem at the moment, especially for the Chilean season. And it's not just the container shortage; other events have also thrown a spanner in the works. It seems there's always something this season," says Evy

"It was either a COVID-19 outbreak aboard a ship or its engine catching fire. Then a crane broke in Rotterdam. That creates challenges and requires a lot of flexibility. It's for good reason that we asked our suppliers to spread their supply as much as possible over various shipping companies. Then the risk is divided too. But that doesn't help if avocados from Chile, Colombia, and Peru then all arrive in the same ship."

Van Gestel says the organic avocados share is also rising, albeit less rapidly than that of the conventional varieties. "And the market is continuously searching for the most sustainable packaging. The global pandemic increased the demand for packaged products. But that trend should subside in time. Extending shelf life is also a hot topic in the market. We're currently testing coatings for that."

She says it is a relief to finally be able to travel and visit suppliers again. "The 'goodwill factor' is and remains enormously important in our sector. You achieve that through personal contact, not via Teams or Skype meetings. You need that personal connection for optimal cooperation. That's why I greatly enjoyed recharging my batteries at the trade fair in Madrid," Evy concludes.

For more information:
Evy van Gastel
Special Fruit
26 Europa Street
2321, Meer, Belgium
Tel: +32 (0) 333 01 792

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