Talking about the avocado-market, Avocado producer Westfalia’s CEO Alk Brand sees a very positive story. “The international market is still growing. The consumption of avocados in Europe compared to the United States and Mexico is still relatively low. So there is still a big upside for us.”
He indicates that although the market in certain countries in Europe is more mature than others, new markets like Germany - which has now overtaken the UK as the second biggest market in Europe - is only in the infant stages of growth.”
Alk expects the outlook to remain positive. “We will find that kind of opportunity in other countries in Europe - like Italy and countries in Eastern Europe - as well, which in terms of avocado-consumption is not that well developed yet. And also in other parts of the world we will continue to investigate where the best options will be.” Also helpful for growth is that avocados have a very good image which carries the fruit into new developments.
Alk Brand at Fruitlogistica 2022
For instance new uses include avocado ice and avocado drinks. A development that Alk thinks we will see more of. “We will see more and more the value-added side of avocado’s as well. The trend will be to find other value-added ways of using avocado’s.”
Danielle Willems, Group Communications and PR Executive mentions that the increasing consumer focus on a flexitarian or plant based diet is a driver of that process. “Avocado is a wonderful alternative in those diets. It is our job to educate people how healthy an avocado is and what a versatile product in can be in those diets.” Also the avocado can be used during various meals. “Avocado is not limited to one meal. It is from breakfast to lunch to dinner and cocktails,” Alk says.
Using the stone
Another way to add value to the avocado is using the stone as Westfalia started doing recently in cooperation with Dr. Craft, active in green chemistry. “It is the very first time that we put the stones of the avocado into beauty products to replace micro plastics. It is waste reduction from our side but is also replacing micro plastics in beauty products. That’s a win win situation,” Danielle mentions. Waste reduction is one aspect of Westfalia’s sustainability policy that extends far beyond only the environment indicates Alk.
Using the stone
“It is also about responsibility. We need to look at a community. We support the UN’s 17 sustainability goals and through our investments in small independent growers in countries like Colombia, Mozambique and Burkina Faso we give people a way to create a career instead of giving them money. It is very positive for economies,” says Alk.
Another element of sustainability that Westfalia addresses it the use of water. Although the fruit is often seen as a water consuming product, Alk suggests that in the production areas there is enough water. “We farm in areas where there is ample water for both our consumption as well as for further needs. We have done a lot of research into avocados, so we believe that the way we farm is very sustainable. We as a company and we as an industry have a responsibility to educate and to inform and we continue to do so.”
Also there is the question what to compare the water consumption to, mentions Danielle. “If you look at it from a nutritional point of view, you’ll notice the nutritional value of an avocado equals that of a steak at around 15 time less water.”
Low drip irrigation
Notwithstanding that, Westfalia aims to be effective with water as possible. It is why the avocado producer and supplier has pioneered a low-flow drip irrigation technique that saves a significant volume of the water used to grow the crop, while also increasing the output and economic value of the fruit. “It is estimated that the approach will bring an overall 50 percent efficiency boost in farms where it is implemented,” Alk says.