Q&A: ProHass President Paredes on industry trade

From Fresh Fruit Portal | 12 September 2023

Overview of avocados from Peru in the U.S. market, complemented by charts from Agronometrics. Original published on September 11, 2023. 

Two  weeks from the end of this avocado season, FreshFruitPortal.com spoke with Peruvian Association of Hass Avocado Producers (ProHass) President Juan Carlos Paredes regarding 2023’s production and export.

How do you assess this season?

President Paredes answers:

It has been a complicated year, due to the effects of Cyclone Yaku. The change in temperature and the rains, especially in the north of the country, which is a good part of Peru’s production area, have all somewhat affected quality.

We were used to having very good quality and ripening, so this year has been a little different.

As for U.S. shipments, we were expecting a very promising market with an important growth and it has not happened. The issue with the U.S. is very complex, due to the presence of Mexican fruit, so we have not even been able to reach what we did last year.

This season’s main problem has been in Europe, which is our main destination, where the fruit ripens in three to four days in the chambers. But this year it has been ripening in double the time and in some cases the fruit has presented external spotting as a result of the rains.

Fortunately we had no gray pulp problems, but these issues really trouble importers, because they have a limited capacity of ripening chambers and now in Europe everything is consumed with ripening.

avocado volumes by histo

Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics.
(Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)

What is the total volume of production?

We are projecting that we are going to finish the campaign with 563,000 tons, compared to 554,000 tons last year, which will represent a 2% growth. Our initial forecast was a 14% increase.

What is the decrease in Peruvian fruit size?

Based on the information that our associates have shared, we expected sizes between 16, 18 and 20. But the curve has shifted more to sizes 20, 22 and 24.

If we take into account that the average size expected before was around 18 caliber and now we are moving to 22 caliber, this means that sizes dropped four points, which is more or less 20% less caliber.

The decrease in size has mostly occurred in the north of the country, since it is where the rising temperatures have been more critical. For the south, in Lima, Ica and Arequipa there has been no impact on size.

It is definitely something climatic. The trees loaded a lot of fruit and the rains stopped growth because the plant stops assimilating nutrients when it rains, as the roots saturate with water. So it is a specific event.

What is the growth of Peruvian avocado in China and what is that market potential?

China has had a very large growth, perhaps a little more than the market could tolerate.  We have had a growth of 80% in that market, going from 28,000 tons to 50,000 tons. We had the goal of not exceeding 60 containers per week, but we have had almost eight weeks of the year in which we have exceeded 100 containers per week, which has obviously put pressure on prices.

What is the state of shipments to the U.S., and what factors have contributed to the decline?

It is a very complex issue, which has many edges to it. Some are calling it an issue of quality perception. We do not believe that it is a quality issue, we think that the presence of Mexican fruit is too strong and with very close relationships with importers.

So it is a win-win for them to work with Mexican fruit, therefore the effort to enter with Peruvian fruit does not have much significance for U.S. supermarkets.

However, this 2023, Mexico has been in a very bad position with retailers, because it promised constant fruit throughout the year and the supermarkets took it to heart, but there were two months in which it ran out of production and the supermarkets have been left with that lesson learned. We believe that next year they will be more receptive to Peruvian fruit, due to the errors of the Mexican projection.

At the beginning of the season we were very optimistic about the low production that Mexico was going to have and the supermarkets were promised that the drop would not occur, which it did. Now we will see how the market behaves with respect to the credibility of the Mexican projections and a Peruvian fruit that is improving in quality every year.

The News in Charts is a collection of stories from the industry complemented by charts from Agronometrics to help better tell their story.

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