The Spanish Hass avocado season, with production concentrated mostly in the coast of Málaga, started three weeks ago with the earliest varieties, and so far prices have remained high due to their great demand.
While bad weather took its toll on the fruit's quality during this first stage of the campaign, right now the situation is much more favourable, with avocados reaching optimal levels of dry matter.
"Strong winds caused many avocados to fall from the trees, forcing us to stop the harvest and pick fruit up from the ground. This fruit obviously could not be marketed as first class, but we sold it in the best possible conditions for the grower," explains Sigfrido Molina, manager of the company Sigfrido SLU. "Dry matter in avocados currently reaches 22% and the quality is ideal for our export markets," he affirms.
Prices are high and sales have been very quiet for two weeks; however, Sigfrido expects a rebound in demand ahead of the Christmas holidays, when he expects to face great competition from Chile and Israel.
"At this time of the year, demand for avocados tends to increase, although we haven't noticed it yet due to the high volume of fruit coming from Chile, which has thoroughly prepared its campaign for the weeks leading up to Christmas."
Furthermore, "Israel is starting its campaign at the moment and will be a strong competitor in the European market, where many chains prefer this product due to its price, even if the fruit's ripening is not as good and it occasionally suffers of lenticel issues. Morocco should also not be ignored, as it is slowly gaining a place in the avocado market with a quality similar to that of the Spanish fruit," he continues.
Meanwhile, Spain's avocado production is stabilising at about 42,000 tonnes per year; unlike mangoes, whose acreage is sharply expanding. "Not all areas are suitable for the cultivation of avocados due to lack of irrigation resources, as the trees are sensitive to water scarcity; therefore, the potential acreage is limited. Nevertheless, mangoes are more resistant to drought and can therefore continue expanding."
As a specialist in the production and marketing of avocado and mango, Sigfrido's fruit comes from its own plantations, as well as from associated growers in Málaga during the Spanish season, importing from other sources during the off-season. "When the Spanish avocado season is over, we continue with Israel, Peru, Kenya and Mexico by air," he explains. Avocados sold under the Sigfrido brand are mainly available in the Netherlands, France and Spain, as well as in Scandinavia and the UK to a lesser extent.
This season, after obtaining the relevant certification, Sigfrido has introduced its new line of organic avocados, for the handling of which it has opened a new 800 square metre warehouse with cold storage facilities.
Additionally, during the avocado season, Sigfrido is kicking off its imported mango campaign with produce brought by plane from Brazil and Peru, which will be distributed with a new packaging format presented at the recent edition of Fruit Attraction.