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South Korea gives green light to imports of Colombian avocado 

South Korea gives green light to imports of Colombian avocado 
Photo: Colombian avocado – Eurofresh Distribution

South Korea has granted access to Colombia’s Hass avocado. Colombia’s Agriculture Minister Rodolfo Zea Navarro said the Asian market has huge potential: “South Korea is a strategic partner in Asia. Between 2016 and 2020, its avocado imports grew by 252 per cent, and it is currently the fifth largest importer of this product in Asia.”

Colombia is now establishing itself as a major global player in the avocado sector, with access to 26 markets worldwide. Indeed, avocados have become the second-largest non-traditional product in the country’s agri-export basket, with sales totalling US$144m in 2020.


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Colombia works to increase sustainable Hass avocado production

Colombia works to increase sustainable Hass avocado production

Colombian crops with international certifications—such as the Rainforest Alliance seal, which guarantees sustainable environmental and social practices—increased 315% in just one year.

In 2019, Colombia closed one of its best years as a global supplier of Hass avocados, with over 1,000 hectares bearing an international seal representing sustainable environmental and social practices.

In addition to increasing 2019 export sales to the United States and the European Union by 434% and 34% respectively, Colombia sent its first containers to Japan and is awaiting entry into the South Korean market and the first shipment to China.

“Internationalization has a positive effect on Colombian products because it promotes competitiveness and the adoption of best practices; the Hass avocado is one of the best examples. As a result of exporting, more companies now realize the importance of ensuring that their impact on communities and the environment is positive. This fruit in particular is one of the main products of focus in order to build a more sustainable country,” stated Flavia Santoro, president of ProColombia—the government agency that promotes non-mining and non-energy exports.

According to figures from NaturaCert—an organization that offers verification and certification services to ensure that sustainable Colombian agricultural products meet national and international standards—20,000 hectares of avocados were certified with the Rainforest Alliance seal worldwide in 2019, with Colombia showing one of the largest increases.

“Colombian Hass avocado certifications have been increasing at a very rapid rate,” stated NaturaCert Executive Director Sandra Restrepo. “This confirms that companies in this sector are increasingly committed to carrying out sustainable processes. The Rainforest Alliance certified 241 hectares in Colombia in 2018, and at the close of 2019, almost 1,000 hectares had been certified. Likewise, in 2019, GLOBALG.A.P. registered 73 Colombian farms, with 952 certified hectares in total,” she added.

Restrepo explained that there is great potential to increase sustainability certifications for avocados in the coming years, given the commitment shown by businesses as well as the demands of markets such as the United States and Europe regarding environmental and social sustainability, as well as food safety.

Moreover, Jorge Enrique Restrepo—the executive director of Corpohass, a union of Colombian Hass avocado producers and exporters—stated, “We have held several informational sessions about standards and certifications, such as GLOBALG.A.P. and the Rainforest Alliance, for producers in various Colombian departments. The aim of these sessions is to create awareness and transfer knowledge regarding the requirements demanded by the world’s leading markets.”

The Corpohass director added, “So far, almost 100% of Colombian avocado crops have been planted where forests have not existed for many years, expanding into pastures formerly used for raising and fattening cattle.”

The GLOBALG.A.P. certification refers to food safety and regulation of chemicals in the fruit.  On the other hand, the Rainforest Alliance seal considers staff recruitment, as well as social and environmental standards, assuring deforestation-free practices and no water or soil contamination. Parallelly, SMETA certifications focus on ethical business practices, while the SPRING seal focuses on sustainable water management.

Leonardo Ferrer Narváez, GLOBALG.A.P. Technical Key Account Manager for Colombia, stated, “There are currently about 700 avocado farms certified in GLOBALG.A.P., an increase of 30% from 2018 to 2019. This will surely continue to grow, because international markets such as Europe and the United States demand avocado production that includes sustainable practices and these certifications. In addition, Colombia’s fertile land requires few irrigation systems, and it has a small ecological footprint due to tree planting.”

Additionally, company representatives say that these certifications have become guarantees for accessing better markets. Among them is Ricardo Mejia Hernandez, general manager of Fruty Green SAS. His company was certified by GLOBALG.A.P. and the Rainforest Alliance for both its crops and packing facility in Antioquia and Risaralda.

“Apart from quality assurance, these certifications have become an important differentiating item, because they offer the possibility of selling avocados in more markets. In our case, we were able to enter very demanding supermarkets in England and Germany thanks to these certification seals. In addition, the benefits include producing cleaner fruit with more rigorous agrochemical regulations and heightened awareness about caring for the environment, including trees, bodies of water, and wildlife,” Mejia Hernandez explained.

Luis Guillermo Rangel—general manager of Agrícola Ocoa Colombia S.A.S., a company that receives Chilean foreign investment—stated, “Our crops in Antioquia have GLOBALG.A.P. and Rainforest Alliance certifications, which have been quite important in meeting the demands and standards of buyers from the United States and Germany. This gives us an advantage and ensures our compliance with safety, environmental, and labor protocols for our employees.” Rangel added that the certifications will assist them in reaching Japan, China, Argentina, and Canada.

A promising future

In 2019, Colombian avocado exports reached US $90 million, an increase of 42%, according to ProColombia’s analysis of National Department of Statistics figures. The main buyers were the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Spain, Belgium, the United States, and France.

Although Colombia is an emerging supplier just beginning to gain prominence in international markets, the country boasts several advantages.

A ProColombia study indicates that, in addition to companies who operate with environmental and social awareness, Colombia can offer avocados essentially year-round and has ample land—approximately 633,000 hectares—that is very well-suited for cultivating the green fruit.


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ProHass launches a seal of guarantee for Peruvian Hass avocados

Emphasising their insistence on complying with the very highest quality requirements, this year they will have a seal of guarantee for importers, ensuring that the fruit they buy from Peru has at least 22.5-23% of dry matter

Following the World Avocado Congress in Lima, Peru, successfully organised by ProHass, the Peruvian Hass avocado industry is facing new challenges in 2016.

General director Arturo Medina explained that “we don’t know how the El Niño phenomenon is going to affect the fruit. Even so, this year we are hoping for growth of 15%, reaching about 185,000 tons.” This would establish it as the second Hass avocado exporter country in the world, behind only Mexico.

Europe will be the destination for 75%, while 20% goes to the US, and this year they will be present for the first time in Asia as of the beginning of the campaign. In this regard, Medina explained that “we are faced with a challenge as we know there is a demand for smaller sizes, but in Peru we produce bigger ones.”

Emphasising their insistence on complying with the very highest quality requirements, this year they will have a seal of guarantee for importers, ensuring that the fruit they buy from Peru has at least 22.5-23% of dry matter. Although the requirements to be met by the companies are established by the association, a private company has been hired to take charge of analysis, thus guaranteeing impartiality.

The ProHass members are the first to have taken up the initiative because they wish to set themselves apart from the rest, with the result that nearly 65% of the fruit exported will be under this quality seal. 

This article appeared on page 68 of issue 142 (March/April 2016) of Eurofresh Distribution magazine. Read that edition online here.


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Ongoing strong growth in Mexican avocado Industry

The world leader in avocado production, Michoacán accounts for 80% of Mexico’s avocado production but the state of Jalisco – Mexico’s second-largest producer with 6% of total Mexican production – is growing at a faster rate than other states.

Mexico’s Hass avocado production is forecast to come in at 1.6 million tons in marketing year (MY) 2015/16, up from the estimated 2014/15 total of 1.5 million, and 1.4 million tons in 2013/14. And exports will rise to about 750,000 tons in 2015/16 (July/June), predicts the USDA GAIN’s Mexico Avocado Annual Report.


The USDA Post’s avocado production forecast for 2015/16 of 1.6 million tons is based on official estimates and reflects the fact that Michoacán has enjoyed good weather, though rainfall and hail in March “somewhat affected maturity levels of the fruit.”
“Sources indicate that the good implementation of phytosanitary pest control programs has helped boost production,” the report says.

Production growing fast in state of Jalisco

The world leader in avocado production, Michoacán accounts for 80% of Mexico’s avocado production but the state of Jalisco – Mexico’s second-largest producer with 6% of total Mexican production – is growing at a faster rate than other states.

Total area planted is forecast to rise 6.2% to 186,926 ha in 2015/16 “as growers in different states in Mexico are interested in increasing area due to good domestic and international demand for Mexican Hass avocados.”

Due to plant health concerns, Michoacán is currently the only state in Mexico authorised to export Hass avocados to the US.


Due to its longer shelf life and demand for the variety in foreign markets, most Mexican states grow the Hass variety. Other varieties planted in Mexico at smaller scales are Fuerte, Criollo, Bacon, Pinkerton, Gwen, and Reed.

Export growth

Despite international prices being lower than expected in September/October 2015, exports were slightly higher compared to the same period in 2014/15. According to Global Trade Atlas (GTA), exports for 2014/15 are estimated at 736,421 tons; however, data from the Secretariat of Economy (SE) in Mexico estimate exports at 847,070 tons.

In general, exports have been increasing due to a good international demand and year-round market access to all 50 US states.

According to GTA, avocado exports to the US for 2014/15 were 584,252 tons (SE data indicates 693,342 tons, very close to the industry estimates), and for MY 2013/14 exports to the US were 436,578 tons (SE data indicates 516,084 tons).

The vast majority of the export business is managed directly by packers, many of whom have significant U.S. investments. Growers in Michoacán generally sell their fruit on the spot market to a packer in terms of pesos per kilo.

Industry representatives indicate that processed avocado (guacamole) exports are approximately 170,000 tons, and that these products are sold to the US, Europe, the Middle East, and Asia, GAIN says.

Export markets

The US is the top export market for Mexico, consuming 79% of total exports. Japan and Canada are strategic market niches where Japan has about 9% of the market and Canada about 6%. About 37 packers in Michoacán are eligible to export Mexican avocados to the US. Mexico has been exporting avocados to 21 countries; other top markets besides those listed above include Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, and France. As Mexico has increased trade with China over the past few years, avocado exports to that country increased from 1,825 tons in 2013/14 to 7,869 tons in 2014/15.

New avocado niche: avocado oil for cosmetics

Fresh avocado exports continue to drive producer profitability despite the fact that new market niches are developing (for example, the extraction and export of avocado oil for the cosmetic industry). The cosmetic industry has not taken full advantage of this demand segment as there is a consumer perception that avocado byproducts are expensive. A small amount of avocado oil is also sold for food use.

source: GAIN Report Number: MX5050 Mexico Avocado Annual Report

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Peru’s fruit and vegetable sector leads its non-traditional exports

Peruvian products have high-quality standards and are conquering new markets.

Peru produces fruit and vegetables of excellent quality throughout the year. With delicious taste, colour and aroma, they are strategically exported in off-season periods to the northern hemisphere.

The fresh fruit and vegetable industry is the most dynamic of the non-traditional export industries. Due to the nature of the market, it generates a whole chain of value in related services, including logistics, cold chain, certifications, and supplies amongst others; creating jobs and infrastructure.

Peruvian products also meet the quality and safety standards required by their customers. Companies are certified with international standards such as ISO, HACCP, TESCO and BRC. They also meet the strict standards of good agricultural practices (GLOBAL.G.A.P.) under the supervision of health authorities in the major markets. These efforts are in addition to the continued improvement of production processes and services by applying cutting-edge technology.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Agriculture and the Ministry of Foreign Trade and Tourism of Peru recently announced the signing of the protocol for Hass avocado access to the Chinese market, which in the short term will mean additional exports of about 11,500-16,100 tons of this product. This would result in further revenues of US $30 million-50 million every year.

In 2014 about 199,000 tons of Hass avocados were exported and the growth rate was 40% per year, so the signing of this protocol represents a great opportunity for farmers.

Peru has become specialised in the cultivation of fruit and vegetables that are exported fresh and processed to niche markets demanding high quality. Hence, the training of human resources in tasks such as sorting and processing is continuously improving. Thanks to these advances, Peru is the world’s leading exporter of asparagus and paprika, and occupies the top spot in other premium products.

Finally, in the case of grapes, a very important market for this fruit has been found in the Chinese market, especially during the Lunar New Year period, currently taking 13% of Peruvian exports.

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Mexico expects stronger avocado exports in 2014/2015



Modest growth will bring Mexico’s Hass avocado production to 1.5 million tons for the 2014/2015 marketing year (MY), according to the USDA’s Foreign Agricultural Service (FAS).

Growers estimate the country’s avocado exports will also increase, to about 700,000 tons, though this could end up being higher as world prices are expected to be lower, FAS said in its recent Mexico Avocado Annual report.

Mexico exports avocados to 21 countries but its top markets are the US (accounting for the vast majority), Japan, Canada, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Honduras, and France.



Michoacán grows most of Mexico’s ‘green gold’

The state of Michoacán, in western Mexico, is the world leader in avocado production, growing 85% of Mexico’s avocado crop. Most avocado production in this avocado belt takes place in small orchards of just 5–10ha.

The vast majority of the export business is managed directly by packers, many of whom have significant US investment. Growers in Michoacán generally sell their fruit on the spot market to a packer in terms of pesos/kg.

Overall yields in Mexico for MY 2014/15 are forecast between 8.9–9.1 MT/ha but yields  of 15–20 MT/ha are expected in the state of Jalisco, which is

planting at higher tree densities and using advanced management technologies.

Due to plant health concerns, Michoacán is currently the only state in Mexico authorized to export Hass avocados to the US. USDA /APHIS registration of authorized pest-free municipalities is required for producers to export to the US.


State of Michoacán within Mexico



Attractive prices for consumers in 2014/15

Export prices were higher than expected in 2014/15. In March 2014, two-layer cartons of Hass 48s from Mexico were reported at prices of $36.25-38.25, up from $31.25-32.25 at the same time in 2013. Prices were higher because California could not supply avocados at the time, and Mexico had some shipping issues.

“Prices for MY 2014/15 began at lower levels and are expected to remain attractive for consumers as the domestic crop is expected to be good,” FAS said.




Click here to read the Mexico Avocado Annual report by FAS

Click here to see photo source
Click here to see source of map showing Michoacán