SOUTH AFRICA – The South African Subtropical Growers Association (Subtrop) has issued a cautionary alert, warning of a looming shortage of avocados from January to mid-February due to concerns over premature harvesting.
Subtrop CEO Derek Donkin emphasizes the importance of growers ensuring that avocados are mature before harvesting to avoid supply disruptions and maintain fruit quality.
“Unfortunately, some unscrupulous growers may be tempted to harvest their avocados before they are properly mature to take advantage of high early-season prices,” Donkin notes.
He highlights the legal consequences, stating, “The sale of immature avocados, which will not ripen properly, is prohibited in terms of the Agricultural Product Standards Act [119 of 1990].”
“Inspectors will be testing the maturity levels of early-season avocados offered for sale, and if avocados are found to be immature, the sale of this fruit will be prohibited.”
The association has reiterated to avocado growers to adhere to the required maturity standards, with Donkin specifying, “For the cultivar Fuerte, fruit moisture content must be 80% or less. Reputable avocado packhouses are all able to carry out the necessary maturity testing.”
Donkin adds that apart from the growers testing for maturity of their avocados, inspectors will also monitor avocado maturity on national fresh produce markets to ensure compliance.
The precautionary advice by Subtrop comes in the heels of a related development in Kenya where the country’s Agriculture and Food Authority (AFA) intercepted the smuggling of premature avocados into Tanzania.
A crackdown at the border town of Namanga resulted in the impounding of four trucks transporting avocados, leading to subsequent arrests. AFA acted on a tip-off from an exporter about the illegal transportation of Kenyan avocados across the Tanzanian border.