Avocados, mangos and papaya - three exotic products that are well on their way to leaving the exotic status behind. This trend started a few years ago. The European trade figures show that the import of mangoes, avocados and papayas are all on the rise. Of the three products, the avocado is the undoubted market leader in the import figures.

Hennie van Es of Total Exotics in Barendrecht sees the market growing by large figures. “The avocado market is booming,” he says. “On the European mainland the growth is even larger than in for instance Scandinavia, where the Hass avocado was already more well known.” The Netherlands, Belgium, Germany and the United Kingdom stand out when it comes to growth. “Globally we are seeing a growth of 10 percent to 15 percent. This is a normal growth,” explains Hennie. Thanks to the development of ready-to-eat avocados Europe is noting an ‘extreme growth’ of 30 to 35 percent.

Sustained growth
Despite this explosive growth in the avocado market, it hasn’t ended yet: Hennie expects the market to grow further this year again. Paul Devlin of Hall’s, also expects an ongoing growth. “In 2015 we saw a dazzling growth and the market hasn’t indicated it’s slowing down yet,” says Paul, European Managing Director of Hall’s. “It isn’t just the United States; we are seeing the markets awaken globally.” The originally South African company controls its own cultivation of 1,800 hectares and sales offices in South Africa, the United Kingdom, France and the Netherlands. The company also markets products from other countries, including Kenya, Tanzania, Morocco, Mexico, Spain, Israel, Peru, Chile, Colombia and Swaziland.

This long list of production countries shows that the avocado is already grown worldwide. Mexico is by far the largest of the exporting countries. In 2015 they exported 863,503 tonnes of avocados. The second, Peru, follows at a distance with 175,639 tonnes on the global market last year. A remarkable third in the ranks of largest exporters is the Netherlands. Although no avocados are grown in the Lowlands, the Dutch were able to bring 108,413 tonnes onto the global market.

“We mainly focus on the European market, but recently we have seen more demand from the Middle East, Far East and North Africa,” continues Paul. “We are very interested in how the market will continue to develop over the coming years.”

Japanese competition
“I don’t see the growth in consumption stopping over the coming years, so even if there is 10 to 15 percent more volume on the market, it will be easily absorbed,” says Hennie. “The market was very tight due to El Nino this year and it was an off-year.” On the global market the South American countries are on the rise. Hennie says that Chile and Peru are marketing the avocados on a larger scale, but in the same region the demand for the fruit is growing from Argentina and Costa Rica for example.

There is a competitor lurking on the global market: Japan. The country imports more and more avocados and has a preference for the same calibres as Europe. “They want a premium quality, but they are also willing to pay for it. The sellers get a good price from the Japanese.” The avocado is a relatively new product on the Japanese market. This means there is still a lot of potential, but it is a threat to the supply to Europe on the long term. “If every Japanese person eats an avocado a week, it will have consequences."

Mango growth market
The market was able to grow particularly rapidly due to the ready-to-eat products. “We took away a lot of the risk for the consumer with this. The consumer now knows that a ready to eat product is ripe,” says Hennie. Just as the ready to eat avocado was the source of the growth in that market, the ready to eat mango is the epicentre of the growth in this market. “We expect the market to continue to grow, especially for ripe fruit,” says Paul. Hall’s label for ripe fruit, RIPE, shows a “phenomenal” growth both for avocados and mangoes.

The mangoes are imported from Peru, Brazil, Ivory Coast, Senegal, Israel, Mali, the Dominican Republic, Mexico and Spain. Just like for the avocados, Mexico is also the clear market leader here. The country exported 331,148 tonnes of mangoes last year. This is over 100,000 tonnes more than Thailand, which takes second place on the list at 218,815 tonnes. The space between this country and the third on the list is smaller. India comes next with 173,813 tonnes. The top five is completed by Brazil (156,557 tonnes) and Peru (132,104 tonnes). Just outside the top 5 is the Netherlands in sixth place. The trading company was able to export 106,906 tonnes of mangoes last year. “The demand for mangoes is growing quickly in Europe, in particular for the ready to eat mangoes,” continues Paul.

Papaya; relative newcomer
The papaya is the newcomer on the European market out of these three exotics. Yet the trade sees that there is an increasingly better market for this exotic and that the papaya is settling in. The demand is increasing and the fruit is getting an increasingly regular place in the fruit and vegetable department. Papayas are playing into the healthy food trend that also exploded the demand for avocados.

The overview of the largest exporting countries globally, starts with an unsurprising first place for Mexico. The country sold 146,202 tonnes last year on the global market. Brazil takes second place with 39,798 tonnes, followed closely by Guatemala, which exported 39,508 tonnes. The top five is completed with Belize (30,740 tonnes) and Malaysia (24,018 tonnes). The Netherlands enters this ranking at the ninth place with 7,979 tonnes. It allows the US, India and China to preceed it, but is the first European country on the list.

More information:
Total Exotics
Hennie van Es

Paul Devlin