Saturday, February 7, 2009

High Demand for Avocados is an Opportunity

From 2005 to 2008, Guatemalan avocado production rose from 20 thousand to 35 thousand tons. The growing global demand for the fruit opens the way for the development of a thriving agricultural industry.

Melgar Nestor Blanco, technical advisor to Profruta, commented that as a backyard crop this fruit has taken off. It's estimated that future production will increase at a rate of 10 thousand tons per year, which by 2013 corresponds to 90 thousand tons of production.

The area under cultivation with avocados in Guatemala has increased from 2,500 hectares in 2005 to 5,000 hectares in 2008. By 2013 it's expected to be 10,000 hectares. Engineers expect that from 2009 to 2012, both production and area under cultivation will increase threefold.

At present, avocado production provides employment to about 8,000 to 10,000 people.

Alex Montenegro, Profruta Marketing Coordinator, explained that one of the first steps to boosting the avocado industry is to integrate all the links in the supply chain.

U.S. avocado production is about 250,000 metric tons but this falls short of demand by about 80,000 tons which must be imported. There is also potential for sales in the EU where people have a tendency to eat more healthy foods like avocados. At present, Guatemala also exports avocados to El Salvador, Honduras, and Costa Rica.

It's an important market. $40 million in advertising for avocados is spent annually in the United States, Mexico and Chile. The high demand for avocados represents an opportunity for the country since conditions of climate and soil in Guatemala are ideal for the production of avocados.

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