AFRICA – The African continent has witnessed a 14% surge in avocado exports, reaching a staggering 319,027 tons in 2023, according to the latest annual report from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

Leading this charge is Kenya, East Africa’s economic powerhouse, which recorded a remarkable 24% increase in avocado shipments, totaling 127,600 tons.

Reflecting on Kenya’s robust performance, a spokesperson from the FAO states, “Kenya continues to consolidate its leading position, showcasing the resilience and growth of its avocado industry.”

South Africa, the second-largest exporter in the region, also contributed to the upward trajectory with a 7% increase, reaching over 67,600 tons.

The country is currently gearing up to exporting their produce to Japan for the first time from June 2024 once the Durban port is ready and operational.

Meanwhile, Morocco, despite this promising trend, faced a setback, experiencing a 32% decline in export volumes, with shipments dropping to 37,500 tons.

On a global scale, the avocado industry saw an overall growth of 20%, surpassing the 3 million tons mark in 2023.

This surge is predominantly attributed to Latin American and Caribbean powerhouses, with Mexico leading at 1.5 million tonnes and Peru following closely with 600,000 tons.

As for market destinations, North America maintained its position as the primary market, absorbing approximately 46% of global avocado imports, trailed by Europe at 35.5%, and Asia at 9.8%.

However, despite the surge, global African leaders in avocado exports like Kenya and South Africa are grappling with the issue of irresponsible practices.

A cautionary note was recently sounded by the South African Subtropical Growers Association (Subtrop), predicting an impending shortage of avocados from January to mid-February.

Subtrop CEO Derek Donkin emphasizes the importance of responsible harvesting to ensure both supply stability and fruit quality.

Donkin warns against premature harvesting, stating, “The sale of immature avocados, which will not ripen properly, is prohibited in terms of the Agricultural Product Standards Act [119 of 1990].” He underscores the legal consequences, highlighting inspections to enforce maturity standards.

Simultaneously, the Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) in Kenya intercepted four trucks attempting to transport immature avocados into Tanzania.

The trucks were impounded at the Namanga customs office, and legal actions have been initiated under the Crops Act 2013 and the Crops (Horticulture) Crops Regulations 2020.

This interception aligns with the official closure of the avocado harvesting and export season in Kenya for the 2023/2024 fiscal year, effective November 3, 2023.

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