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Joachim Prinsloo – Sunreaped

Eastern Europe stokes demand for South African avocados

"Our Pinkerton avocados have delivered a handsome crop, exceptionally clean with little damage by weather elements," says Joachim Prinsloo, CEO of Sunreaped, grower of subtropical crops in the northeast of South Africa and southern Mozambique. "We're halfway through the avocado crop and busy with Hass, which are also nice clean fruit. Sizing is a good average sizing that's peaking on counts 18 and 20."

The Pinkerton is a gateway avocado cultivar for countries that have only recently started eating avocados, like Norway, Eastern Europe and Russia, and where the buyers are not as unyielding with regards to cultivar and counts as in Western Europe.

Their avocados (which constitute only 5% of the Sunreaped portfolio besides bananas, ginger and macadamias) are in very good hands, Prinsloo says. "Our avocados are marketed by The Fruit Farm Group – I don't think there's anyone better when it comes to avocados. In my opinion they're far ahead in the avocado game, and I'm not referring solely to price levels but also to the dynamism within the company and their brilliant avocado team in South Africa: Alta van Eeden, Jaco Marais and Athol Currie who are always in touch with the grower, in touch with the exporter, making sure that their exporters are satisfied."

Continuous avo supply reduces prices
He remarks that locally, avocado consumption has not expanded since last year, despite the longrunning campaign run by the South African Avocado Growers' Association to stimulate avocado consumption.

"On exports, more opportunities open every year, and not necessarily because of new trade agreements with other countries, but because more countries have become accustomed to eating avocados, and specifically consumers in Europea's Eastern Bloc."

The local market does not wane in importance, though. "There are plenty of our class one fruit that are sold locally, because we regard our domestic market as equal in importance. We have a responsibility to ensure that premium fruit is also placed in the South African market."

Domestic avocado supply is just about year-round in South Africa these days, as a result of a mosaic of orchards across the diversity of microclimates in the country. The same abundance has also pressed down prices and avocado farming is getting to be on the marginal side, he says.

"From Europe we're now getting R60 [3 euros] a 4kg carton, after deductions. Prices are under pressure, for instance if you look at the prices we received four years ago, when it was R100 a carton after deductions. It's absolutely a function of the many hectares of avocados that were planted."

Macadamias are rebounding after a few dull years, and the other welcome change, Prinsloo says, is the total transparency of pricing and hence the peace of mind he gets from his association with a new macadamia exporter, the Bester Groep.

For more information:
Joachim Prinsloo
Email: [email protected]