Tropical Fruit Congress, an overview on global and European mango and avocado production

17 May 2018

Macfrut (Rimini, 9-11 may 2018) hosted the first edition of the Tropical Fruit Congress, the first and only European summit on mangoes and avocados. The fully booked Congress, which was divided into two sessions, featured about 20 speakers from all over the world to discuss the production, import/export and consumption of these two fruits. After the first day, which focused on marketing and quality, the second session coordinated by journalist Pierre Escodo turned the spotlight on production.

Daniel José Bustamante Canny, president of Prohass Peru, the association of Peruvian producers and exporters of Hass avocados, opened the event, illustrating the production of this variety in Peru and in other producer countries in South America. ‘Among the South American countries that produce Hass avocados there are Peru, Chile, Colombia, Brazil and Argentina,’ Bustamante said. ‘Chile is the oldest producer country and a major exporter, Peru is the leading exporter to European markets, and Colombia is the real rising star. In fact, the latter has been growing very rapidly in recent years and it is the only country that can ensure supply throughout the year.’ Hass is the most popular variety with European consumers and the most cultivated in South America. For 2018, Hass avocado production in Peru, which is the leading supplier of avocados to Europe (154,468 tonnes in 2017 according to the data provided by AMAP), is estimated at more than 300,000 tonnes in an area of nearly 30,000 hectares. Chile, the second leading supplier of avocados to European markets, has a surface of 23,500 hectares and produces 225,000 tonnes of Hass avocados. Colombia produces 80,000 tonnes on 15,000 hectares and is the sixth avocado supplier to Europe. From 2016 to 2017, the amount of avocados exported by Colombia to Europe grew by 55%, and a further 33% increase is expected for 2018.

In addition to South America, Europe boasts an avocado production area in Spain, the seventh producer country in the world with an area of about 10,000 hectares and a yield of approximately 6,000 tonnes per hectare (12% of which in the Canary Islands, entirely destined for the domestic market, especially tourism). Enrique Colilles, General Manager of the Spanish company Trops, took stock of the European situation with regard to the production, import/export and consumption of both avocados and mangoes. ‘As far as the avocado market is concerned, consumption is growing significantly in most EU countries, with an annual average of 1 kg per capita and a maximum of 2.5 kg in Scandinavian countries,’ Colilles stated. ‘From 2015 to 2017, European consumption grew by 20% a year and it still has a lot of growth potential. The aspect on which the industry is focusing and should continue to focus on is selling this fruit at the perfect degree of ripeness, when it is ready to eat. Consumers are still not able to tell when this fruit is ripe, which is why they need guidance: thanks to technology, the industry has the necessary tools, but consumers must be willing to pay for this added value.’ Italy has also started to produce avocados, mainly in Sicily, and has about 260 hectares of avocado plantations, which are mainly abandoned or exhausted land that has been reclaimed and converted to grow this type of fruit.
There is a mango production area in Europe too, and we are talking about Spain again. ‘Spanish mangoes are produced in an area of about 5,000 hectares, with a yield of 15,000 tonnes per hectare. Italy has also started producing mangoes and has about 100 hectares of plantations, which is not that bad to begin with,’ Colilles continued. ‘An interesting fact about Spanish mangoes, which are grown especially in the Malaga area where temperatures never drop below 3 °C, is that they are perfectly ripe when they reach European markets, since they travel a shorter distance than mangoes from South America. It is a high-quality product with a delicious taste, and its price allows for a “democratisation” of consumption, since it is lower than that of mangoes transported by air,’ Colilles concluded.
After an overview on South America and Europe, Emiliano Escobedo, Director of the Hass Avocado Board, spoke about the USA, the world’s leading consumer of avocados. ‘In the 1980s, in the USA, avocados got the thumbs down: the common myth was that “they are fattening”,’ Escobedo said. ‘However, from 1980 to 2017, the sales volume increased by 250%, and this is all thanks to its newly discovered health benefits.’ The Hass Avocado Board, an association of Californian producers and importers of Hass avocados, was founded in 2002 in order to promote avocado consumption in the USA. Since 2010, the Board has invested a significant amount of resources in research, commissioning and publishing 20 studies that have overturned beliefs about avocados: it was found that this fruit is rich in good fats and that it plays a key role in preventing cardiovascular disease. In the USA, avocado has become a very popular ingredient that is always on the menu, and its nutritional benefits are well known thanks to a major marketing campaign launched by the Board in 2013, entitled “Love One Today”.
The congress ended with the workshop “How to preserve quality along the supply chain”, with the participation of Norman Van der Gaag - Sales Manager of Aweta Group, Arrie De Kock - Senior Researcher at Experico, Jetta Van den Berg - president of Savid, Alessandro Turatti - president of Turatti North America, and Adriana Senior Mojica - president of CCI Colombia.

For further information, please visit: www.tropicalfruitcongress.com

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