Export of fresh avocados to Europe

The European import value of avocados almost quadruple between 2013 and 2018. This upward trend is due to consumer demand for ready-to-eat meals and healthy diets. It creates opportunities for producers and exporters, especially for the avocado variety Hass, although competition is growing. The best opportunities exist in major consumer markets such as France, Germany, Spain and the United Kingdom, which are often available through the Netherlands.

Contents of this page

  1. Product description
  2. Which European markets offer opportunities for avocado exporters?
  3. Trends offer opportunities in the European avocado market.
  4. What requirements must avocados meet to be allowed on the European market?
  5. Additional requirements do buyers often have?
  6. What are the requirements for niche markets?
  7. What competition do you have in the European avocado market?
  8. Through which channels can you get avocados on the European market ?
  9. What are the final prices for avocados?

1. Product description

Avocados ( Persea americana ) are classified into four main types: Guatemala, Mexican, Western Indian and hybrids. Commercial varieties include:

Hass avocado, a Guatemalan black pea fight, is the main plant variety today. There are new Hass varieties, such as Lavi Hass, Lamb Hass and Gem Hass. These Hass sub-varieties contribute to extending the supply period.

Table 1: Combined Nomenclature (CN) code for fresh avocados

NumberProduct
0804.40.00.10Avocado, fresh

Source: Eurostat Comext.

Information on the quality, size, packaging and labeling requirements for avocados are available at:

Quality

The development of avocados should have reached a normal stage, which will ensure that the ripening process continues. UNECE standards require a minimum dry matter content of 21% for Hass and 20% for Fuerte (expiry requirement). Vendors use different measurement methods and product patterns may vary by country and by variety. For the Hass variety, Europe often prefers a dry 23% theme. For importers who mature avocados, 23% of the dry matter is the minimum.

Avocados are generally classified into three categories depending on the quality:

Europe is almost exclusively class I as a minimum.

Avocados should at least be:

Size and packaging

Fresh avocados are classified according to size codes 1 to 30, with a minimum weight of 123 grams (or for Hass 80 grams). In Europe, the preferred sizes for Hass avocados range from 16 to 20 (for the Fuerte variety 14 to 16).

Packaging requirements vary between customers and market segments. They must at least be packed in new, clean and quality packaging to avoid damage and to protect the product properly. Discuss packaging requirements with your customers.

Some general features are:

Be sure to use a controlled atmosphere during the logistics process.

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Titling

The labeling of consumer packaging must comply with the rules and regulations applicable to the European market:

The following information must appear on the label of fresh fruit and vegetables:

If your product is pre-packaged for retail sale, check the additional requirements of the Codex General Standard for the Labeling of Prepacked Food (CODEX STAN 1-1985) or Regulation (EU) 1169/2011

For more information on labeling, packaging and quality, Also: Codex Alimentarius Standard for avocados (CODEX STAN 179-1995). Always discuss the additional requirements with your buyer.

2. What European markets offer opportunities for avocados exporters?

Imports of avocados from developing countries continue to grow

Imports from developing countries such as Peru, Mexico, South Africa, Kenya and Colombia are increasing and their value exceeded one billion euros for the first time in 2017 (see Figure 1). The remaining European imports, worth about half a billion euros, were mainly supplied by Chile (which is no longer considered a developing country by the OECD) and Israel.

From 2015, the total value of imported avocados grew faster than the volume, indicating good prices for suppliers. In the short term, you can expect demand to remain high and increase.

Strong consumer demand across Europe

Based on production and trade statistics, total European avocado consumption is close to 500 thousand tonnes, or about one kilogram per inhabitant. This consumption rate is still relatively low compared to, for example, the US where people consume four times more avocados.

Traditionally, France is the largest market for avocados and is still so. The United Kingdom, Spain and Germany also have very strong growth.

Scandinavian countries are much smaller in population but retain one of the highest avocado consumption rates thanks to strong promotion and attention to healthy food.

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The Netherlands is the main commercial hub for avocados

The Netherlands is the second largest non-producer avocados exporter in the world. The country is also responsible for nearly half of avocado imports in Europe. From there, large quantities are re-exported to Germany, France, the Scandinavian countries and, to a lesser extent, to other countries.

Big “final” destinations in Europe are France, the United Kingdom and Germany. In general, the European market is expected to grow further in the coming years.However, the market will remain very competitive and importers will favor the largest producers due to security of supply. Figure 2: Main European importersin 1,000 tonnes20132014201520162017NetherlandsFranceUnited KingdomSpainGermanyBelgiumSweden0100200300Source: ITC Trademap

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Spain completes production by import

With about 87 to 88 thousand tonnes a year in 2015-2016 according to FAOSTAT (and 55 thousand in 2017, according to other sources), Spain is Europe’s largest avocado producer (see Figure 3). However, Spanish traders buy more and more avocados from abroad to complement their time and comply with international procurement contracts. This makes Spain the third largest avocado exporter in Europe after the Netherlands and Belgium.

Portugal also gathers about 14 to 18 thousand tonnes a year, but these figures were not available at the time of drafting. Figure 3: European production of avocadosin 1,000 tonnes20122013201420152016SpainGreeceFranceCyprus0255075100Source: FAOSTAT

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Hass most popular variety of avocados

Green varieties quickly lose market share in Hass. There are still growth prospects for consumption of green avocados in Eastern Europe and other middle-income countries facing economic growth, although these markets do not have the same volume as Western Europe. In these countries, the Hass variety is expected to replace much of the consumption of green avocados in the long run.

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3. Trends offer opportunities in the European avocado market.

The Trends study of CBI provides you with general trends in the European market for fresh fruit and vegetables. This section provides more details about specific trends in fresh avocados.

Fruits of convenience

Consumption of avocados has been backed up by new developments, such as ‘ready for consumption’ and, more recently, frozen avocados. Consumers are ready to pay a high price for high quality ready-to-eat avocados. The added value of flavor and ripening of fruit sets a new standard.

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Greater interest in sustainable fruit

Environmental and social issues are becoming increasingly important in the supply of fresh fruit and vegetables. This also applies to avocados, for example, water use during production.

Certification systems complying with the Global Social Conformance Program (GSCP) will be more likely to be accepted by European supermarkets.

The general trends in fresh fruit and vegetables provide a further insight into the different types of certification. See buyer requirements below for fair and sustainable fruit production for more information.

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Beware of a healthy diet

Consumers in Europe are more aware of health issues and are paying more attention to their diets. 

Organic position

Thanks to increased attention to health and the environment, interest in bio-produced avocados also increases. The current offer does not fully meet market demand due to the difficulty of producing organic avocados.

Organic avocados are a growing market and are sold by specialized and major retailers. It can be an opportunity for growers who are able to produce according to the strict guidelines associated with organic production methods, to sell their products as organic. See them  requirements  buyers for organically produced fruits below for more information on requirements.

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Variation in bid and price

Avocado has been a growing market for several years. Changes in production planning and climate change lead to fluctuations in supply and therefore prices. In 2014 prices fell due to oversupply, while in 2015 and 2016 they started at a higher level due to poor or late harvests in Peru and Chile. In general, importers in the European market favor larger producers due to security of supply.

Demand remained strong throughout 2018, but prices fell sharply again due to oversupply. Dealing with products such as avocados that grow in popularity can also be dangerous. This has led to a large number of (new) producers and it is difficult to predict when the supply will exceed demand or vice versa.

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Strong promotion of avocados

In order to increase demand for avocados, associations of producer countries such as Peru , Chile and South Africa are launching promotional campaigns.

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4. What requirements must avocados meet in order to be allowed on the European market?

The requirements for food safety for avocados are the same as for other fresh fruits and vegetables. You can find a complete overview:

Which legal and non-legal requirements must comply with your product?

Minimization of pesticide residues

Pesticide residues are one of the crucial issues for fruit and vegetable suppliers. In order to avoid damage to health and the environment, the EU has established maximum residue levels (MRLs) for pesticides in and on food.  We note that buyers in many Member States such as the United Kingdom, Germany, the Netherlands and Austria use MRLs that are stricter than the MRLs defined in EU legislation.

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Compliance with phytosanitary requirements

Fruit and vegetables exported to the EU must comply with Community plant health legislation. The European Commission has introduced phytosanitary requirementsto prevent the introduction and spread of organisms harmful to plants and plant products in Europe. 

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5. Additional requirements do buyers often have.

GLOBALG.AP and other credentials as a guarantee

. As food safety is a top priority in all EU food sectors, you can expect most buyers to ask for additional guarantees in the form of certification. The most commonly asked certification for avocados is GLOBALG.AP.

GLOBALG.AP is a pre-farm model covering the entire agricultural production process prior to landing on the unprocessed product (treatment not covered). The need for GLOBALG.AP also depends on the country of destination, market conditions and the purchasing channel. For example, it is almost impossible to supply northern Europe without GLOBALG.AP, as it is a formal requirement for most supermarkets.

Examples of other food safety management systems that may be required are:

These management systems complement GLOBALG.AP and are recognized by the Food Safety Initiative ( GFSI ).

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6. The requirements for niche markets.

The growing demand for organic avocados

A growing number of consumers prefer foods produced and processed by natural methods. The market for organic avocados is relatively small, but with increasing demand and limited supply.

In order to trade organic products in Europe, you must use organic production methods in accordance with European legislation and apply for a biological certificate with an accredited certificate.

Examine the organic as a plus, not as necessary and you are ready to comply with the whole organic process. Recall that the application of organic production and certification can be costly.

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7. Competition in the European avocado market.

For general information on the market’s competitiveness for fresh fruits and vegetables, you can see the CBI competition study available on the CBI Market Information Platform. The platform also provides advice on business cooperation with European buyers .

This section lists opportunities and barriers to entry, as well as competition at company and product level for avocados.

Corporate Competition

Major retail channels are difficult to access

The purchasing power of large supermarkets is very strong and the obligation to comply with their stringent requirements. 

The bargaining position of suppliers of avocados to European importers is gradually improving, mainly thanks to positive market developments. However, competition with large experienced suppliers and direct sale to private customers is a very different game. As a smaller exporter, it will be extremely difficult to get to the main channels for avocados unless you are part of a larger commission mix.

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More producers meet rising demand

World avocados production is growing and competition is strong. Temporary shortages in supply or demand (eg through border cessation or climate) have a huge impact on prices.

Mexico is by far the largest producer with a record production of about 2 million tonnes in 2017. For Mexico, the European market is an alternative to the usual North American focus and exports to Europe have increased significantly since 2015.

After Mexico, there are several countries producing 0.2 to 0.6 million tonnes avocado per year (2016 items), including the Dominican Republic, Peru, Indonesia, Colombia and Kenya.

Although most avocados in Europe come from Peru and Chile, other countries, such as Colombia, place themselves as new upcoming suppliers thanks to the huge increase in production, although quality issues are sometimes an important point of attention.

 Here, the producers have developed significant volumes of production and started exporting to Europe in 2017. Their exports in 2017 were about 700 tonnes for the Netherlands and the United Kingdom, but the strong results will last for a few more years. Main suppliers of avocados to Europein € million20132014201520162017PeruChileIsraelMexicoSouth AfricaKenyaColombia0200400600Source: ITC Trademap

New markets provide steady growth

With new markets such as China and India, the expectation is that global demand will continue to grow for several years. Throughout the world, production is also rising rapidly, but it will take several years to achieve satiety.

Competition between buyers

Professionals in the avocado industry expect deficiencies in the near future. Avocado plantations around the world are expanding rapidly, but they take time to reach full capacity and meet demand.

At the same time, new consumer markets like China have joined the world trade avocado. Buyers in Europe are worried that their suppliers will turn to markets with less stringent requirements such as Asia and the Middle East.

This competition among buyers can be a blessing for exporters who want greater flexibility in product size and certification.

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avocados_table_2.png

Table 2: Logbook 

Market introduction

Certification and fulfillment of both legal and non-legal requirements are major barriers to market entry for producers and exporters.

For avocados, harvest and shipping quality is critical and Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) is becoming increasingly important. Buyers also expect supply chain transparency and exchange of information and seek long-term partnerships to ensure product supply and quality.

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Product competition

Over the last decade, the variety of fruits and vegetables available on the European market has increased. this increases competition from other products. Avocado is a multifunctional fruit that can be used in salads, sandwiches, spreads and sauces. There are no other products similar to avocados, so the risk of replacement is limited.

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8. Through which channels can you get avocados on the European market?

For more information about channels and market segments, you can see the Market Channels section and sections available on the CBI Market Information Platform.This section provides some information on the different marketing channels through which fresh fruit and vegetables are marketed in Europe.

Figure 6: Market chan- nels for fresh fruit and vegetables on the European market

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Importers in the Netherlands are an important hub for the rest of Europe

The Netherlands and France are the main ports of entry for avocados in Europe. Dutch wholesalers deliver avocados to many buyers across Europe.

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Avocados are mainly sold by retailers

Avocados are mainly sold in retail. Large retail outlets (so-called hypermarkets) in Spain and France are a dominant channel of purchase. Major retailers and Northwest Europe are high quality markets and generally consume high quality and avocado “ready for consumption”. Eastern Europe and Spain (for processing) are able to absorb other avocado qualities.

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9. What are the final prices for avocados?

Consumer prices for avocados vary

Consumer prices for avocados vary according to quality, availability and sector. Supermarkets in Western Europe generally sell a good avocado for the price of between EUR 1 and EUR 1,5 per unit (ready-for-consumption quality).

When commodity prices are rising, the retail market can resort to smaller avocado sizes and thus maintain a similar price per unit.

Pricing slightly lower at peak times

European avocado prices are slightly lower during the summer months when the product is sold by strong suppliers such as Peru and South Africa, whose maximum harvest period extends from May to August. The beginning and the end of the times are very difficult to maintain the quality of the product, which means you should carefully watch the duration to avoid claims.

Retail prices do not reflect commodity prices

Large retail chains or supermarkets often have avocado programs with their suppliers. Retail and promotional prices are managed independently of the spot market. A retail program provides stability and security of a fixed supply volume, but prices are not negotiable.

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