Avocados: The ‘pandemic-proof’ crop for health nuts – more way of life

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Health-conscious consumers are eating avocados like never before throughout the pandemic. After a brief drop in demand at the start of the Covid crisis, European and U.S. consumption are hitting record highs, according to Xavier Equihua, chief executive officer of the World Avocado Association, a business group. “Consumption is off the charts,” Equihua said in an interview from California. “People wish to eat healthy. The new luxury post-pandemic is going to be eating healthy, and wellness. Even the fashion industry is saying that.”

Demand for the fruit has accelerated as more consumers eat at home. No longer just a component of guacamole for parties, its use has broadened to salads, burritos and, of class lesson, the hipster cliche of avocado toast. Europe’s consumption will hop 12% this year to a record 1.48 billion pounds, according to import data, while U.S. demand will increase 7%, Equihua said, citing industry projections.

“It’s not only the millennials,” Equihua said. “They’re now having kids and they’re eating avocado, too. Gen Z also wants healthy food. We’re going to see a further explosion in the next six to eight years” when Europe may catch up to the top-consuming Americans, he said.

The value of global avocado imports grew the fastest among main fruits over the last decade, according to David Magana, senior analyst for Rabobank International. Global demand for Hass, the preferred variety, will grow at an annual rate of nearly 5% through 2025, topping $8 billion globally, the Hass Avocado Board projects.

Luckily for consumers, bumper crops in Mexico and California, the top suppliers to the American market, brought prices down this year after a provide disruption in 2019 sent prices to record, Magana said. From 2010 to 2018, world output rose from 2.87 million tons to 6.4 million, with planted area almost tripling, according to data from the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Association, which excludes Chile, crucial producer.

While lower prices have helped demand, U.S. market penetration has room to grow, according to Equihua. The average American eats 8 pounds a year, compared with Mexico’s 20 pounds, he said.

One of the vital main challenges for the industry remains to be sure that provide helps to keep up with demand, to steer clear of a surge in prices, while also addressing criticism that some countries are expanding production the usage of non-sustainable practices for the surroundings, he said.

“We’re just scratching the surface in Europe, China” and other parts of Asia and Southeast Asia,” said Steve Barnard, chief executive officer at Mission Produce Inc., the world’s largest supplier, which owns packing facilities and grows fruit as mannered. “India is starting to explore avocado consumption and based on the population in those areas, the expansion and demand has enormous possibility for growth.”

To safe avocados year-round, the California-based company has been making an investment in countries such as Guatemala and Peru. Europe “presents a great possibility and is likely one of the reasons to be in Guatemala” to beef up expansion, he said.

The company’s annual sales more than doubled over the last five years, which gives Barnard reason to be bullish even on China, where challenges remain. The company entered a a partnership with a native importer and a fruit retailer, and their Mr. Avocado venture is the first and currently the only supplier of ripe avocados in the Asian giant.

“Chinese consumers are very attracted to the health benefits,” Barnard said. “Presently, China thinks of avocados as a smoothie and baby-food ingredient, whereas the U.S. thinks of avocado toast and guacamole, so as the country continues to gain access and familiarize themselves with the fruit, consumption will continue to grow.”

(This story has been published from a wire agency feed without modifications to the text. Only the headline has been changed.)

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