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Last hurrah of 2016/17 avocado season in South Africa

South Africa’s avocado season is closing off as the final volumes are exported or delivered to local markets – the bulk of it from KwaZulu-Natal, but also from higher-lying avocado regions in the north, like Politsi, Tzaneen, Haenertsburg, Louis Trichardt.

Producers from the north who are able to let their fruit hang this long, even still have Fuerte left, but its strong price on an empty-ish market has been dented somewhat by the appearance of Hass from Kwa-Zulu Natal. Hass and some Gem, Westfalia’s late cultivar, made up most of South Africa’s last avocado exports. 

Reed avocados can be found on the local market, but due to its thicker skin which makes it more difficult to ascertain ripeness, it is not a cultivar used by the ripe-and-ready sector.

“This time of the year maturity issues, due to dropping moisture levels, make it too much of a risk to send avocados overseas on the three or four week journey,” says Athol Currie, chairperson of the South African Avocado Growers’ Association (SAAGA), which this year celebrates its fiftieth anniversary.

Locally, market agents regard the current price as quite good, although, some point out, volumes are more than they expected, with a spike over the past week. Still, “it’s very late in the season and the price is right. It will go in and it will go out. Next week we’ll still get some, then it’s over,” says Christoff de Wet, RSA market agent at the Johannesburg fresh produce market.

At the Tshwane market, these last avocados sell for anything between R80 (4.9 euro) to R190 (11.65 euro) per 3.5kg/4kg box, depending on cultivar and size, or R360 (22 euro) to R400 (24.5 euro) for an 18kg bag of Fuerte. At this time of the year, some producers decide to forego their last opportunity at exporting this season in favour of the local market because of the healthy prices there.

Prices on supermarket shelves show why: at one supermarket six ripe-and-ready Hass avocados sell for a stiff R62,99 (3.8 euros) at the moment, while at another four ripe-and-ready Hass are R64,44 (3.89 euros), or R19 (1.15 euro) for one.

For more information:
South African Avocado Growers’ Association
Tel: +27 33 212 2164

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