Peru playing key role in Westfalia’s avocado business
The multinational Westfalia Fruit Group, a leading avocado grower and a supplier of fresh and processed produce to international markets, has increased its Hass avocado shipments in recent years and expects to export 33,000 tons of fruit this year from with Peru.
“We have longstanding experience in the production, processing and marketing of Hass avocado abroad and in the local market,” said Omar Diaz, general manager of Westfalia Fruit Perú. “Our strength is based on the high-quality standards of all our processes and the solid alliance that we have built for many years with our grower-partners.”
The company’s grower orchards are located in 14 regions of Peru and total 3,000 hectares (nearly 7,500 acres) of Hass avocados of different ages.
“Being located in different regions allows us to have a long harvest season that begins in February and ends in August,” Diaz said. “Our exports have been increasing year on year and by 2020 we plan to export 33,000 tons of Hass avocados to 18 countries in America, Europe and Asia.”
Westfalia Fruit Perú estimates that the current total area of Hass avocados in Peru is approximately 40,000 hectares (around 100,000 acres) with fields of different ages, some of which are still young and will increase their production in the coming years.
“This is an ‘on’ year of increased production for various origins such as California, Mexico and South Africa, among others,” Diaz explained. “In the case of Peru, we project a growth in volume of 20 to 25 percent compared to 2019. This year, Peru plans to export 350,000 to 360,000 tons of Hass avocado and from this volume it is estimated that 90,000 tons will be exported to the U.S.”
In 2020, there has been a two- to three-week delay in the dry-matter level of the fruit at the beginning of the harvest season on the north coast. As a result of this and some logistical problems relating to COVID-19, the company has exported lower avocado volumes to date compared to the previous season, but in the coming weeks the harvests will be progressively increased to reach the final volume estimated for the 2020 season.
During the pandemic, the company’s main objective has been the health and safety of its employees and other stakeholders. To fulfil this objective, remote work was quickly implemented in areas where it was possible and a series of protocols for the care of personnel was activated, which includes the use of PPE, daily temperature checks, constant disinfection of hands, maintaining adequate distance between people, and frequent disinfection of transport units and all work areas.
“Compliance with these protocols has enabled us to continue working to supply this delicious and healthy product to our importers in different parts of the world,” Diaz said.
One of the pillars of Westfalia Fruit Perú is the generation of trust in the entire agro-export chain, working with strategic growers that allow it to comply with the supply programs it has in place with importers or supermarket chains.
“One of our main objectives is to export products of excellent quality, and to achieve this we have a technical team that provides permanent training to our producers in the different areas of crop management,” Diaz said. “We have also implemented a series of harvesting, processing and export protocols that enable quality control at all points in the supply chain. The orchards and packinghouses have international certifications that ensure compliance with good agricultural, social and environmental practices.”
Likewise, he noted, it is vitally important to supply retail channels around the world 12 months a year. Westfalia Fruit Perú is a strategic company within the Westfalia Fruit Group to achieve this goal. The group has both significant exporting and marketing capabilities out of Peru but also has physical ripening and distribution capabilities on the ground at its operation in California.
At the start of 2020, a commercial alliance was signed with an important grower company in Peru that will allow Westfalia Fruit Perú to add a significant volume of Hass avocado to its export programs for this year and the following seasons.
“Also this year, in partnership with a grower, we started planting our first orchard with the Gem avocado variety, which will allow us to extend the export season in the coming years as far as September and October,” Diaz said. “Peru received the green light this year to export avocados to South Korea, so we are preparing to export our first container at the end of May. It is very important to continue developing new markets to have more commercial options available.”
Photo: Omar Diaz