Mex­ico’s av­o­cado ex­ports to China rise

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - BUSINESS - By PAUL WELITZKIN in New York paulwelitzkin@ chi­nadai­lyusa.com

Chi­nese con­sumers are de­vel­op­ing a taste for av­o­ca­dos and of­fi­cials in Mex­ico, the world’s largest pro­ducer, said China is a mar­ket ripe for growth — as Mex­ico may be fac­ing pos­si­ble pol­icy changes by the Trump ad­min­is­tra­tion that could af­fect av­o­cado trade with the United States.

“Ex­ports of av­o­ca­dos from Mex­ico to China have sub­stan­tially in­creased in re­cent years. Al­though to­tal vol­umes re­main small, the growth rate is amaz­ing,’’ said Ra­mon Paz of the As­so­ci­a­tion of Pro­duc­ers, Ex­porters and Pack­ers of Av­o­ca­dos from Mex­ico.

“We ex­ported 470 met­ric tons in the 2012-13 sea­son and it jumped up to 11,000 tons in the 2015-16 sea­son,” he said.

Cle­ment Mougenot, the re­search di­rec­tor at Daxue Con­sult­ing in China, said that Mex­ico’s av­o­cado trade with China will con­tinue to in­crease.

“Vol­umes are grow­ing year af­ter year and we do not ex­pect the trend to slow down for the next 5-10 years if the Mex­i­can av­o­cado as­so­ci­a­tion can work out a mar­ket­ing strat­egy sim­i­lar to New Zealand ki­wis to help Chi­nese con­sumers de­velop a taste for the av­o­cado in gen­eral,” he added.

Most Mex­i­can av­o­ca­dos are shipped by sea to China, ac­cord­ing to Mougenot.

“It takes around 20 to 50 days through ship­ping and the cost through sea ship­ment is much lower than air ship­ment,” he said.

“The main ports of en­try are Shanghai, Shen­zhen, Guangzhou and Hong Kong.”

While China’s growth rate for av­o­ca­dos is in­creas­ing, there is some ner­vous­ness in the Mex­i­can agri­cul­ture com­mu­nity as US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump con­sid­ers pro­pos­als like a 20 per­cent tar­iff on im­ports from Mex­ico. As­so­ci­a­tion of Pro­duc­ers spokesman Paz said that the av­o­cado trade be­tween the US and Mex­ico would still thrive.

“We be­lieve that even if tar­iffs were im­posed on av­o­ca­dos from Mex­ico (to the US), we would con­tinue ex­port­ing big vol­umes to this mar­ket, merely be­cause there is no sub­sti­tute to Mex­ico,” he said.

“We are the only sup­ply­ing coun­try that can of­fer the huge amounts de­manded in the US and the only one able to do it dur­ing the 52 weeks of the year,” he said.

Paz said Mex­ico has a prof­itable mar­ket in the US, thanks to the North Amer­i­can Free Trade Agree­ment.

“We shipped 860,000 tons in the 2015-16 sea­son and ex­pect to ship around 800,000 tons in the cur­rent 2016-17 sea­son. This rep­re­sents around 80 per­cent of the US mar­ket con­sump­tion,” Paz said.

Mougenot said that in China av­o­ca­dos are quite pop­u­lar in big cities and that the mar­ket is de­vel­op­ing, as con­sumers be­come more aware of the fruit. De­spite their green color and taste, av­o­ca­dos are not a veg­etable but a fruit or sin­gle-seeded berry.

“Restau­rants and fast-food chains are also adding av­o­cado to their menus,’’ he said, not­ing that Yum China, the com­pany be­hind Pizza Hut, Taco Bell and KFC (the lead­ing brand of fast food in China with 7,200 stores) have menu choices with av­o­cado.

Mougenot said very lit­tle of av­o­cado de­mand is met by lo­cal grow­ers in China.

AFP

A farmer loads fruit boxes with av­o­ca­dos onto a truck at an or­chard in the mu­nic­i­pal­ity of Uru­a­pan, Mi­choa­can State, Mex­ico.

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