( WAO )

Seeking to grow demand in Europe, Colombia has tossed its hat in the ring of the World Avocado Organization.

The announcement came in September at the Asia Fruit Logistica trade show in Hong Kong, according to a news release.

The group promotes consumption and awareness of avocados at a global level and especially in Europe. The group’s roster of members includes representatives from Mexico, Peru, the U.S., South Africa, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Mozambique and Spain.

With the addition of Colombia and Spain this year, the World Avocado Organization represents more 70% of the avocados sold in Europe.

“We are delighted that Colombia joins WAO and look forward to working together to supply the European avocado market, which has been soaring over the last few years,” Zac Bard, chairman of WAO, said in the release. “We are pleased to replicate the programs WAO has implemented in Europe during the fall and winter months together with the Colombian Hass avocado sector.”

Colombia’s avocado producers and exporters include Fruity Green, Cartama – Avofruit, S.A. and Westfalia Colombia, according to the release. Each of those firms also officially joined WAO, according to the release.

Output of avocados is on the rise in Colombia, according to the release, with volumes growing by 550% a year between 2012 and 2016, according to the release.

The European avocado market consumed more than 1.1 billion pounds of avocados in 2017 and is projected to grow at least 15% per year in the next five years, according to the group.

“Joining WAO will help Colombia to unlock their full potential and key opportunities across the European avocado market,” Daniel Bustamante, vice-chairman of WAO, said in the release.