Avocado farmer, Muia Kusenga in Machakos County. Global avocado demand has doubled as supply from giant countries shrink. Photo by Laban Robert.
Kenyan farmers may double avocado earnings with the increasing demand for the fruit in the international market as main competitors suffer low harvests due harsh weather and strikes.
The global avocado prices have doubled amid the short supply, with consumers in the US, the largest importer of the fruit, suffering shortages and price fluctuations.
Peru, which is one of the stiff competitors of Kenya in the export arena, experienced floods in March. This greatly affected the maturing fruits ahead of onset of the May high season of harvesting.
Kenyan farmers started harvesting avocados from mid February, but the entry of the Peruan avocado, was expected to cause competition and hence low prices in the European Union and other markets.
Mexico, which exports more than 1.4 million tons of avocados per year, experienced farmers’ strike in March. This affected the output too into the international market, according to global online marketplace Freshplaza.
Consumers in the US are already paying double prices for the product, which is hardly available. The shortage in the US domestic market has been caused by low production in California, one of the leading producers of hass variety. The state has been hard hit by a five-year drought.
In the US, the prices have reached the highest in 19 years with the average price for 10kg of avocados costing Sh2,800, according to Freshplaza. Individual consumption has also doubled in 10 years from 1.5kg in 2006 to 3.1kg in 2016.
As the Kenyan exporters expected to enjoy a window into the international market until May, this period may extend as a result of one of the main competitors, Peru, experiencing low production.
The Asian countries are also ‘going crazy’ for the avocado from Western Australia, with the main exporter from the region reported as saying the orders are bombarding despite high prices.
A Western Australian avocado export company owner, Jennie Franceschi, told Frehplaza the low production may not allow them to export more to meet the domestic demand.
Kenya exports its fruits to the European Union, Asian and other global markets. The country was expected to have its peak in May, although the four-month long drought from late 2016 may have an impact on the yields.
The US is the largest avocado importer, taking in more than 1.7 million ton of the fruit per year. Netherlands is the second largest importer of avocado, with Kenya being one of its source markets.
China is also growing in consumption of the fruit, therefore presenting another opportunity for export, into a market that was traditionally dismal.