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China and South Africa Sign Avocado Export Agreement

August 28, 2023

According to a report in the Independent Online, one of South Africa’s leading online news websites, South African Minister of Agriculture Thoko Didiza recently signed an agreement with Chinese Minister of Foreign Affairs Wang Yi for the export of avocados from South Africa to China.

Didiza expressed her enthusiasm for the agreement and said that her government is committed to opening the Chinese market to South African farmers. Over the coming years, China is expected to become one of the world’s main avocado consumers, providing a massive opportunity for the South African avocado industry to expand production.

In the South African Avocado Industry Overview released by the South African Avocado Growers’ Association in May, Derek Donkin, CEO of the South African Subtropical Fruit Growers’ Association (Subtrop), said that the country’s avocado industry grew steadily from the 1970s up until 2003. Despite almost zero growth between 2003 and 2008, total acreage has been expanding again since 2009 alongside increasing consumer demand. According to South Africa’s 2023 avocado tree census, commercially planted avocado orchards now cover approximately 19,500 hectares, with new plantings averaging about 800 hectares annually.

The South African avocado season traditionally runs from February to October, but with new plantings at higher altitudes and more southerly latitudes, the fruit is now being harvested throughout the year. The peak harvest still occurs between February and August, but yields between September and January are increasing as newly planted areas begin to produce fruit.

Approximately 80% of the avocado trees cultivated in South Africa are of the dark-skinned Hass variety and related cultivars, such as Carmen, Gem, Lamb-Hass and Maluma. The remaining 20% are green-skinned cultivars such as Fuerte, Pinkerton, Ryan and Reed.

The estimated three-year average annual avocado production in South Africa is 139,400 metric tons, of which 45% is exported, primarily to the United Kingdom and the European Union. The remainder is consumed domestically, with approximately 10% used for processing into avocado oil and puree.

South Africa is the continent’s largest avocado exporter, with markets including Europe, the Middle East and other countries in southern Africa. South Africa is forecast to export approximately 18 million cartons of avocados this year, an increase of almost 2 million cartons compared with last year. Domestic demand for the fruit continues to increase.

Besides South Africa, the other main avocado producers in Africa include Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique and Zimbabwe. Kenya and Tanzania were granted access to the Chinese market in June and November 2022, respectively. Exports of Kenyan avocados to China began in July of last year, with the Avocado Society of Kenya reporting an export value in excess of $57 million in 2022. According to data from China Customs, as of July of this year China had imported 3,674 metric tons of Kenyan avocados worth approximately 47.46 million Chinese yuan ($6.51 million).

Image: Unsplash

This article was translated from Chinese. Read the original article.

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