"Mexico is having a tough avocado season. We usually have a peak supply of this product around this time. But a lack of volume means almost nothing's going to Europe," says Rodolfo Meza of Aztec Fruits, a Mexican exporter group with a sales office in the Netherlands. "It's a dramatic year compared to the last one."
Mexico's avocado high season normally runs from September to late December. "From January on, we must be far more careful because there's a much higher probability of high dry matter from December to February. This year, though, we're in a situation where we've sent almost no product to Europe all year. It's simply too unprofitable."
The main reason, according to Rodolfo, lies in the fruits' sizes. "Climate issues mean we have mainly medium and small avocados. However, the problem is that the growing countries of interest, such as Spain, Morocco, Tanzania, and Colombia, also have medium calibers. It's, thus, very hard to compete in the European market. Sizes 24 - 28 recently went for €1.50," he says.
"There's no way we can make money on that if we have to ship to Europe. Also, most Europeans want the larger fruit. As a result, this season, Mexican fruit is primarily destined for the local market and places like Japan and Canada. Countries where Mexican avocadoes can make up their costs."
"I don't see things changing toward the end of the season. To illustrate, last year, we could send avocados to Europe via air freight for €30/10 kg and still make some money," explains Rodolfo. "This season, we're working with €35 per 10 kilos by sea freight. That's just not profitable, which is tricky because Europe represents a market with plenty of potential for Mexican fruit."
Aztec Fruits is, thus, eager to capitalize on that sales market. Along with avocados, the company also exports mangoes, papaya, chilies, and okra. "These products can still sell well on the European market. We're also increasingly looking for access for our limes. We get many inquiries about whether we can supply Mexican limes to European customers. We're still preparing for that, but there seems to be nice prospects for Mexican limes, too," Rodolfo concludes.