Avocado production in Spain during this campaign will be reduced by at least 25% compared to last year, resulting in lower market availability, as the harvest of the so-called “green gold” has also decreased in other competing countries. “, whose consumption continues to grow in Europe.
This scarcity gives farmers hope that the campaign will be slightly better in terms of prices than the previous one, though it will not compensate–in terms of income–for the expected drop in production, which the main national avocado marketer, Trops, estimates at 40% compared to the 2021/22 season.
The crop has been harmed by both a lack of rain and high temperatures this summer, resulting in less fruit being harvested and smaller fruit sizes, according to Domingo Medina, president of the National Association of Tropical Fruits.
Medina’s prediction is that the Spanish campaign, which runs from October to the beginning of June, will produce between 50,000 and 60,000 tons of all varieties, with Hass being the most common (and currently in full harvest).
The drought has had a particular impact in recent months in the Axarqua region of Malaga, one of the main producing areas, and production will not reach the quota of previous years, when it accounted for half of the national total.
Trops manager Enrique Colilles estimates that 70 percent less water will be collected than in a normal year in the area of greatest influence of the La Viuela reservoir in Malaga.
Drought impacts production
This decrease is due to a lack of rain as well as their plantations, which “are old and beginning to lose productivity,” whereas in other Spanish areas with younger trees, cultivation and management techniques yield a higher yield. Medina emphasized performance.
During the previous campaign, Spanish production “was a record,” as it was in countries such as Israel and Morocco, which compete in the same months as when the Hass variety, with its rough skin and high consumer demand, is marketed.
This meant that there was “a lot of supply” in the market, which, according to the association’s forecasts, will be reduced by around 25% this year, a decrease that Trops quantifies at 40%, and which will also be influenced by the number of times (productive alternation) of the trees.
Medina downplays the significance of smaller avocado sizes because “it does not imply a reduction in quality,” and he believes that there will be no market problems as a result because “other countries, such as Chile, also have problems with “endemic irrigation,” and in recent years they have marketed small or medium caliber avocados with good acceptance.
Farmers are confident that the price they will receive will be between 2.50 and 3 euros per kilo higher than the previous campaign in Malaga.
The recent rains in the Axarqiua have aided the trees somewhat, as the soils are “very contaminated with salts,” and this will primarily benefit late-harvested fruit.
“There will be less fruit on the market,” Colilles predicted, citing lower production not only in Spain but also in other countries.
Morocco and Israel, for example, coincide with the national campaign, where a 40% drop in production is also expected compared to last year.
Prices will be “at 2019 levels,” according to the Trops manager, who explained that due to high production, they will be 30% lower in 2021.
Regarding the impact that it will have on the final price paid by the consumer, he has assured that these variations “are usually less noticeable” in the sale to the public because “distribution tries to keep prices quite stable”.
He does see “many tensions” in the market, however, because “the avocado is liked, it is increasingly in demand, and those who try it become addicted.”
Trops, which normally accounts for around 45% of Spanish avocado production and 55% of mango production, will prioritize customer retention this year when exporting.
Andalusia is the leader
“We are fortunate that they are going to raffle off (the production)” that they are going to market, approximately 18,000 tons, 70% of which will come from Andalusia. Prices may be better (per kilo), but “income will be reduced because they will not rise as much to compensate for the drop in production,” he explained.
Trops’ main international clients are Spain, Germany, France, and the United Kingdom, but it also has a strong presence in Scandinavia and Switzerland, where demand is much lower.
As an example, among the European countries with the largest populations, Italy is the only one that consumes very little avocado. Consumption of this fatty but healthy food continues to rise in the rest of the world.
The rivalry between Spain and Chile and Peru
Spain’s main competitors are Chile, Israel, Morocco, and Peru, though not all of them are in the market at the same time, implying that there is a supply all year.
Until November, the product from Chile predominates, and then the strong “window” of Spain opens between January and April, a few months in which avocados from Israel and Morocco also enter, before giving way to those from Peru in the spring.
Mexico is open all year, but “almost everything is sold in the United States, and they only look at Europe when that market is saturated,” according to Medina.
Avocados are grown in Cádiz, as well as Málaga and the Granada coast, in towns such as San Martn del Tesorillo and Castellar de la Frontera, and this crop has burst “with force” in Huelva, which “in a few years will have weight in the market,” according to Medina’s forecast.
Furthermore, there are the Canary Islands, which do not have much chance of increasing cultivation, and Valencia, where citrus profitability has fallen and avocado plantations are growing, primarily of the Lamb Hass variety, which does not compete directly with Hass production.