SOUTH AFRICA – South Africa has joined the list of new entrants in the vast Chinese market after signing a deal with the tenth-leading importer of avocados globally.
China depends heavily on avocado imports for domestic consumption. The climate in the country varies due to its huge size with the northern part experiencing cold winters, hot summers, and the southern part having mild summers. This limits its ability to grow avocados on a commercial scale.
“Gaining access to China is a vital step in driving an export-led growth for the South African avocados, which is a commitment the government has made under the agriculture and agro-processing master plan,” said South Africa’s Minister of Agriculture, Land Reform and Rural Development Thoko Didiza.
She added that the export of avocados to China will result in South Africa growing more fruit, in particular avocados, and increasing employment opportunities.
“China is likely to become one of the world’s major consumers of avocados and that presents a huge opportunity for South Africa,” Didiza pointed out.
In recent years, the avocado industry in South Africa has expanded its area of cultivation by 4,750 hectares to 18,000 hectares.
Local media report that SAAGA (South African Avocado Growers Association) estimates, the volume of avocados exported in 2023 could reach 80,000 tons, a variation of approximately +23% compared to the previous year.
According to industry analysts, around 45% of South African avocados are consumed domestically, around 45% are exported and around 10% are processed into oil and guacamole.
In the batches exported, the South African Avocado Growers’ Association estimates that 45% are exported fresh to Europe.
Wandile Sihlobo, chief economist of the Agricultural Business Chamber of South Africa, welcomed the opening of the Chinese market for avocados from South Africa.
“BRICS countries are an important agricultural market because when you think of them in value terms, this is a market that is worth over $300 billion. Of course, China is an important market making two-thirds of that contribution,” he said.
“We want to diversify our exports and deepen trade with China. We would like to see more opening up of the Chinese market to many more agricultural products.”
According to Freshela, a Kenyan-based company that engages in the sourcing, processing, and exporting of avocados and other fresh produce, China can be considered a high-value avocado market.
The country takes in major commercial varieties such as Hass and Fuerte, but also brings in minor commercial green skin varieties. Many avocado consumers in China prefer Hass avocados that are small because of their lower cost.