Business / Industries

Avocados find sweet spot for surge in growth

By Emma Gonzales (China Daily) Updated: 2015-06-23 09:01

Avocados find sweet spot for surge in growth

Everything you needed to know about avocados in a Chinese supermarket. [Photo/China Daily]

Most of avocado imports are supplied by Mexico and Chile. But increased demand means that there is still room for more exporters to grab a succulent bite of the Chinese market. In fact, countries such as New Zealand and Peru have also expressed interest in selling their excess production to China.

Still, Mexico remains the largest supplier of avocados with 58 percent of the world's total production. And the country's exports to China have experienced three-digit growth in the past few years.

In 2014, Mexican avocado exports to China were valued at $8.35 million. This represented an increase of 351 percent from 2013 when exports were worth only $1.85 million, according to the Mexican ministry of agriculture.

Higher disposable income for food purchases and changes in dietary habits are seen as the reasons behind the increase in demand.

The fruit has also received praise from nutritionists because of its high content of unsaturated fat and vitamin E, appealing to the health-conscious younger generation.

Huo Zijing, a professional in her mid-20s, eats avocados at least once a week because of its high nutritious value. "I also really like the taste, especially when I eat it with soy sauce and Japanese mustard. It tastes exactly like raw sea urchin," Huo said.

Avocado imports are also expected to see further growth this year. From January to March, Mexico exported 2,600 tons of avocados to China worth $5.5 million. This represented an increase of 486 percent compared to the same period in 2014, according to statistics released by the Mexican ministry of agriculture.

But avocado producers and distributors believe there is still further growth potential by tempting customers living outside first-tier cities.

Although avocado consumption is spreading and more people in China are willing to try the fruit, most consumers are still concentrated in the capital and in the southern part of the country.

"The largest markets today for avocados are Shanghai and Guangzhou, but demand is growing in the second-and third-tier cities," Tommy Padilla, Asia export sales manager at the US-based fruit exporter Mission Produce, said.

For that reason, Chinese fruit distributor Lantao teamed up with Mission Produce last year to introduce Mexican avocados in second-tier cities.

The companies targeted several provincial capitals, including Henan's Zhengzhou, Liaoning's Shenyang and Harbin in Heilongjiang province.

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