Philippe Binard, manager of Freshfel Europe, spoke on avocado trends at Fruit Logistica on Feb. 6. ( Tom Karst )

BERLIN — World trade and consumption of fresh avocados has been rocketing higher for the past 15 years, but how long can the market continue to grow?

That was the question that Philippe Binard, manager of Freshfel Europe, an association for the fresh produce trade in Europe, spoke about Feb. 6 at the 2019 Fruit Logisitica show.

“The question is whether this (growth) is something which we can expect to continue or whether we are at a crossroads,” Binard said.

He noted European importers endured a difficult summer season in 2018, with more supply than demand.
After a 30-minute presentation breaking down production, export and consumption trends globally, Binard said there are plenty of reasons for optimism.

He noted European and U.S. imports of avocados seem to be breaking records every year at the same time Asian markets are also growing.

Mexico, the world’s dominant producer and exporter of avocados, continues to push output higher, he said.

Global growth

World avocado production has increased from 3 million metric tons ten years ago to about 5 million metric tons in the latest data, he said. World production seems to be increasing about 200,000 metric tons per year, he said.

Mexico produces about 1.8 million metric tons of avocados and continues to expand. Peru, Colombia, Chile, Indonesia and Kenya are some of the countries that will be growing more avocados in coming years, he said.

Global exports of fresh avocados run at about 2 million metric tons, with Mexico accounting for about half of that volume. By 2030, Mexico could be exporting close to 2 million metric tons, Binard said. 

Mexico’s main destinations is and will remain the U.S./Canada, but Binard said Mexico will also export more volume to Europe and other countries. Avocados are the number one fruit imported to the U.S. in value and number three in volume after bananas and pineapples.

U.S. per capita consumption of avocados has more than tripled since 2000 but varies significantly by region, Binard said. West Coast consumers eat close to 13 pounds a year, while East Coast consumers eat 2 pounds to 4 pounds.

“I think that was an indication that maybe the market is not in full saturation and there is still potential for growth in the U.S.,” he said. 

Europe has experienced strong per capita growth since 2010, he said, supplied in order of importance by Peru, Chile, Israel, Mexico and South Africa.

Binard said per capita consumption has room to grow in eastern and southeastern Europe, which have per capita consumption levels below 2 pounds, compared with twice that in Scandinavian countries.