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More Mexican avocados expected

Mexico will harvest 1.8 million tonnes of avocados this season, making the harvest higher than last year. That increase is despite frost and low temperatures in Michoacan in March this year. The region is by far the most important production region for avocados, and has a share of 80 per cent in the Mexican avocado cultivation, according to a recent report of USDA.

Mexico has a total of 203,732 hectares of avocado cultivation in 2016/17. That is an increase of 8.7 per cent compared to the previous year. Cultivators invested in an expansion of the area in various Mexican regions. That is stimulated by the good demand for and price of Hass avocados worldwide. That strain is popular in part thanks to its good shelf life. Other strains that are cultivated are Fuerte, Criollo, Bacon, Pinkerton, Gwen and Reed.

Illegal planting
The area in Michoacan, the primary region, is parcelled out over small plantations of five to ten hectares. However, cultivators are investing in the cultivation. Depending on the technological possibilities that are utilised, average yield is between eight to ten tonnes and 14 to 16 tonnes per hectare. On average, yield is nine tonnes per hectare throughout Mexico.

According to local newspapers, the area of forest is decreasing in Michoacan. An important cause for this, besides illegal logging, is the illegal expansion of the avocado cultivation. These illegal expansions are rejected by authorities, but due to the good prices given for avocados on the world market, it is appealing for cultivators to plant more avocados. The cultivators put up with the risk of prosecution. The federal prosecutor is devoted to combat the expansions. Additionally, various projects are underway to plant forests in the area. 

Domestic less important
The consumption in Mexico is dependent on the world market. Cultivators who are able to export prefer selling on the international market, because prices are higher than on the domestic market. For 2016/17, domestic consumption is estimated to be 600,000 tonnes, but that figure could change under the influence of the world market. For example, last year, consumption was lower because of a good export market and a smaller demand with higher prices on the domestic market. According to the cultivators, the average consumption has decreased from eight kilograms to 6.8 kilograms per head of the population.

The estimates mention one million tonnes of export in 2016/17. Exporters count on a good demand on the international market. In general, devaluation of the peso against the dollar tends to be positive for exports. Exports also increased during the previous season.

US by far most important
Between June and August, prices on the world market increased as a result of the changing seasons. Because of that, less volume was available. In October, a disagreement between cultivators and packers resulted in a strike. That delayed the harvest, which immediately resulted in higher prices on the world market. Small and midsize cultivators blocked roads in Michoacan. The cultivators had various demands. They suspected traders of export prices not corresponding with the cultivation prices, among other things.

The main buyer of Mexican avocados is the US. The country is good for 77 to 79 per cent of the export. Japan and Canada are two other strategic markets. The Asian group of islands has a share of nine per cent. Canada has a share of six per cent in the Mexican export. Besides, there is also some export to France and Spain. Michoacan is currently the only province allowed to export Hass avocados to the US. The Jalisco region is working on acquiring those permits.
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