By Tim Linden
Over the past several years, Chile’s domestic market plus strong demand in Europe has greatly limited the exporting of that nation’s Hass avocado crop to the United States.
While this year’s crop is predicted to be up about 10 percent, exports to the United States are not expected to grow tremendously, but there could be some marketing opportunities especially on the early end of the deal. Karen Brux, the U.S.-based managing director of the Chilean Avocado Importers Association, told The Produce News in late July that harvesting of small volumes would soon begin “and we expect harvest to be in full swing by mid-August. Timing will be dependent on dry matter levels and fruit maturity. We’re continuing to monitor the orchards, and will only harvest when our avocados reach a degree of maturity at which they’ll ripen appropriately and deliver a great eating experience for the American consumer. Our retail partners trust that we will supply consistently high-quality fruit, and that is our promise to them.”
She added that the first shipment of avocados will arrive in the United States in August and shipments should continue through March of 2017. In the 2015-16 season, Chile harvested about 180,000 metric tons. This year’s crop has been estimated at 200,000 metric tons. Brux said the increased volume is the result of healthy rainfall in some production areas that had previously suffered from the drought.
With strong pricing and demand in the domestic market, about half of all of last year’s volume was sold in Chile. Of the 90,000 tons that was exported, the majority was shipped to Europe, due to strong market conditions. A small, but growing volume, went to China, with about 11,000 metric tons (24 million pounds) arriving in the United States for a few key retail accounts.
There is some talk by importers of increased supplies from Chile because of the strong marketing conditions that currently exist in the United States. At the beginning of the Chilean deal this year, there are opportunities especially for large fruit. Brux noted that “if market conditions are supportive, there could potentially be opportunities to expand our U.S. program. We will continue to work with a few key retail chains and develop targeted marketing programs to support their sales of Chilean avocados.”
In Chile, Brux said there continues to be a lot of talk about China. “While it’s fair to say that China is an increasingly important market for Chilean avocados, the volume sent from Chile is still small,” she said. “Last year, Chile exported a total of 5,300 tons (11.6 million pounds) to China and in 2016-17 this figure is expected to increase. The Chilean Hass Avocado Committee from Chile is also investing in a larger marketing program in China, with plans for in-store promotions, social media programs and cooking activities.”
On the marketing side, CAIA has designed and launched a new logo, moving from Avocados from Chile to Chile Avocados. Brux explained the new concept: “Our goal was to develop a lively, contemporary logo focusing on the origin of our avocados. While it might look simple at first glance, there are multiple layers to the new logo. The ‘C’ in the logo also serves as an avocado, with the red, white and blue colors representing the colors of Chile’s flag. We feel it’s a more striking and bold representation of our brand. Our website, social media and all marketing collateral have been updated to incorporate the new logo.”
CAIA also has merchandising materials available to the trade on its website (www.avocadosfromchile.org) and a fully integrated social media program encompassing Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and YouTube. Our merchandising materials cover three themes — nutrition, taste and seasonal — with catchy supporting taglines such as “The Game Changer”, “Taste that Tops Everything” and “Open Up and Say Ahhvocado.”