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Creole Dominican avocado variety arrives in Costa Rica

A creole avocado variety, of Dominican origin, has arrived on the Costa Rican market to help meet the demand from now until February.

The first shipments of the fruit arrived last week. It is a variety that is not Hass, but has some similar characteristics.

Randall Benavides, president of the National Chamber of Exporters and Importers of Perishable Products, explained that it will compete with the Chilean Hass that is currently on the market.

One of its advantages is its price, since a kilo after shipment to Costa Rica costs ¢ 1,300 (2.21 Euro) at wholesale, compared to the ¢ 2,400 (4.07 Euro) per kilo of the Chilean Hass.

Rodolfo Agüero, owner of Frucali S. A., said the fruit is widely accepted, but that they have had delays of up to 22 days in its shipment due to excessive paperwork and permits.

Thus, a new option is opened to consumers, who have not had access to the Mexican Hass variety since 2015. On 5 May of that year the State Phytosanitary Service (SFE) banned the issuance of import permits for that fruit.

The SFE claimed this was done for health protection, to prevent the eventual entry of the avocado disease called sunblotch.

The ban applies to Australia, Spain, Ghana, Guatemala, Israel, Mexico, South Africa, the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela and the state of Florida in the United States. But Mexico was the traditional supplier and is also the world's largest producer and exporter of avocados.

The value of imports of this fruit has been falling since the ban. Data from the statistical portal of the Foreign Trade Promoter (Procomer) indicate that between January and August 2014 (without the prohibition) $ 16.2 million worth of avocados were imported. This figure dropped by 21%, to $ 12.8 million, between January and August 2016.

The latest avocado market study carried out by the National Production Council (CNP), published last September, found that between January and August, the country was supplied with 870.5 tonnes of imported Hass avocados, 277.7 tonnes of domestic Hass and 722.3 tonnes of Creole varieties.

That entails that imported Hass avocados surpassed the other varieties by 21% and the domestic Hass by 200%, as revealed by the CNP study.
The Hass is currently imported from Peru and Chile.

Benavides explained that the Dominican fruit has less water and more oils than the Creole varieties of Costa Rica and Nicaragua, which gives it a consistency close to that of the Hass.

Importers are bringing in two containers (25,000 kilos each) per week. The fruit is being tested in markets and some stores, like independent supermarkets.

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