04 April 2017 Read: 179
Despite the growing global supply of avocados, prices for avocados are still rising. This is an indication that the avocado industry has grown to its full maturity according to Dr André Ernst of Allesbeste boerdery. Dr Ernst was speaking at Allesbeste’s annual Maluma day held on 8 & 9 March at Merensky High School. The total supply of avocados to the EU has grown by 68% over the past 8 years,’ said Ernst. ‘In 2008 the EU imported around 1,2m cartons/week, in 2016 this figure has increased to around 2,5m cartons/week.
South Africa exports around 14 million tons of avocados a year and sells around 12 million tons locally according to Ernst. The local market has been developed to such an extend that consumers demand avocados to be available 12 months he said.
As the demand for, and price of avocados increase more farmers are looking to increase their avocado plantings or switch to avocados said Ernst. According to the South African nursery association the amount of land under avocado orchards is increasing by around 500ha/year but Ernst estimates this figure to be closer to 800 ha/year. This trend is pushing up land prices cutting down on the profitability of the avocado industry according to Ernst. “We need to update our data every year to see how we are comparing to other industries and what we can learn from them,” said Ernst. “We need new varieties that is more productive, use less water and become less labour intensive.”
Currently the avocado industry is employing 4 350 full time staff and needs one labourer per 3,5 – 5ha of orchard. In order to produce 6t/ha avocado orchards, receiving around 1000 mm/year, need to be irrigated for around 16 weeks per year bringing the water usage of avocados to 261L/kg fruit produced said Ernst.
– Alita van der Walt