The Peruvian avocado industry forecasts a total of 630,000 tonnes in production for this season, a 14% year-on-year increase.
The president of Peru’s Association of Hass Avocado Producers and Exporters (ProHass), Juan Carlos Paredes Rosales, spoke with FreshFruitPortal.com about the projections of a record season, the reasons that have led the industry to take a leap in production, and a look at future challenges.
“The [exports] are concentrated between March and August, and we expect a steady flow of containers, hopefully, no more than 500 to 600 containers a week,” he said.
One of the main causes of the increase in the Peruvian avocado industry, he said is the incorporation of 24,000 new producers, covering approximately 20,000 hectares. These growers have a maximum of two productive hectares, with a yield between 2 to 8 tonnes that did not exist before.
“This is in addition to the production of medium and large companies, ranging from 2 hectares to more than 40,000 hectares, which have advanced irrigation and fertigation; an industry that currently has a per-hectare yield of at least 14-16 tonnes,” he said.
That has led to “the increase in production costs because everyone has sought efficiency and that translates into better use of all resources,” he said. “In the end, the effect is to increase productivity.”
Paredes also highlighted the contribution of the use of technology. “Probes and satellites have been incorporated, which have improved the advice in the fields. And now one can just break the balance of the business between 18-20 tonnes per hectare.
Peruvian avocado exports
Paredes indicated that this crop of avocados is bound primarily for “Europe, followed by the United States, Asia and South America (Chile, Argentina).”
ProHass is working together with different marketing organizations in different markets, “because in Europe and the United States, although consumption is high, there are states where consumption is still low, and we are working on this.”
He also added that in the current campaign, they will carry out marketing actions with Asian supermarkets, specifically in Japan and China. ProHass also plans to promote avocado consumption in the domestic market, “because Peruvians consume a lot of avocados.”
Exports to Chile
In 2021, Peru sent 14% of its production to Chile. According to Paredes, “it was a year of very good Chilean consumption. I believe that this year we will also have a similar participation in the Chilean market.”
Regarding the quality of Peruvian avocados, Paredes commented that in the northern part of the country, a cosmetic avocado is produced, where the skin is rougher than the Chilean silver.
“From Nazca to the south to Arequipa, due to colder weather conditions, the avocado is almost identical to the avocado that the Chilean consumer is used to.”
Despite good forecasts for the current season, challenges remain. A very relevant one for Paredes is the quality and uniformity of the Peruvian avocado.
“The large and medium-sized companies and partners of ProHass are responsible for quality. However, other companies are smaller, more informal, that do not care about this and are discrediting us with some arrivals of early Peruvian fruit to Europe,” he said.
The association is working with the Universidad Nacional Agraria La Molina on a project he said to try to “implement a ripening chamber to better determine the percentage of dry matter and oils so that the avocado arrives with better maturity to different destinations.”
The association’s goal is to carry out a work plan that includes small producers, since they account for a third of the export supply.
“Our efforts will be to provide them with technical advice, better agricultural practices, advice on markets and bring Senasa to them,” he said.
He also indicated that some companies are conducting trials with new varieties such as Maluma, Carmanhassa, Mendez, and others.
“[That is} to get out of the typical sale, where the price tends to go down due to the number of containers leaving Peru in the months of May to June,” he said. “The companies that leave on that date are making the effort to leave with an earlier or later offer.”
Looking to the future
Despite the achievements of the Peruvian avocado industry, Paredes wants to see further advancement. “We have consolidated commercially, technically and now comes the next step, which is a milestone that will mark the industry: that is sustainability,” he said.
Paredes assures that Peru has the characteristics to produce sustainable agriculture.
“Now we have to add it to marketing, so that we do not differentiate ourselves from other countries and thus be able to sustain the demand year after year, together with the hectares cultivated in Peru,” he said.