Costa Rica decrees state of phytosanitary emergency for Fusarium TR4
On 1 July Costa Rica declared a state of phytosanitary emergency as a measure to prevent the entry of Fusarium oxysporum f.sp. cubense tropical race 4 (Fusarium TR4) into the country and protect its banana production (Fresh Plaza, 3 July). The President of Costa Rica, Carlos Alvarado, and the Minister of Agriculture and Livestock, Renato Alvarado, signed the decree that allows using resources from the State Phytosanitary Service to combat new or existing pests that may cause damage to national agriculture, and carrying out preventive actions to protect the productive activity. Fusarium TR4 causes the plants to wilt and die. In addition, it remains in the soil for a long time, making it difficult to manage. Its presence has already been detected in several parts of the world and in Latin America. The pathogen is mainly spread by the movement of planting material in soil particles that adhere to footwear, tools and vehicles, as well as through runoff or irrigation waters that carry the fungus from one place to another. Currently the only way to prevent transferring the affected soil or plant material to Fusarium TR4-free areas is to quarantine the affected areas. Costa Rica’s banana production generates more than 140,000 direct and indirect jobs and exports that amount to nearly $1 billion a year.
Imported banana prices at UK wholesale markets
The UK’s Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs publishes the average wholesale prices of bananas by country of origin (Fresh Plaza, 1 July). The prices are national averages of the most usual prices charged for bananas at wholesale markets in Birmingham and London, UK. In the current week, average prices were at £0.71/kg for bananas from Colombia, a +4% price increase on last week. Bananas from the Dominican Republic came in at £0.66/kg, a 14% drop, and the fruit from Costa Rica sold for £0.84/kg. The data on imported banana prices are updated weekly, alongside national average wholesale prices of (UK) home-grown fruit and vegetables.
Overview of the global avocado market
Fresh Plaza (26 June) has published an overview of the global avocado market. Avocado prices are slowly dropping on the European market, and in general prices are expected to fall sharply in July and August compared to previous months. This is due to the fact that some countries continue to buy smaller volumes than usual because the coronavirus is still having a huge impact. For example, part of the food service in the US is not yet back to its old level. Peru, the world’s largest producer, is therefore selling more volumes on the European market. Other production countries and regions are Mexico, Colombia, California, South Africa, Kenya, Tanzania and Uganda. Peru has a strong presence in both China and India. South African companies are currently also sourcing Peruvian avocados to supplement their own volumes, as they have had smaller home-grown volumes than expected. In China, imports are still on the rise; Colombia is perceived as a nice addition to fill the gap between the Chilean and Peruvian seasons. People are also increasingly working on their own production.
The report gives details on importing countries in the European avocado market, which is currently well supplied. It states that due to the crop’s growing popularity, more and more production areas are being introduced. Kenya, for example, continues to increase its market share, but Tanzania is also shaping up as a potential avocado exporting country, according to an importer.
The popularity of avocados is also increasingly strong. June was named Avocado Month by the World Avocado Organization, resulting in promotions at various supermarket chains worldwide. The number of avocado exporting countries is also on the rise. For their part, Peruvian, Chilean and also African exporters are increasingly focusing on the Chinese market. There is a lot of potential in China, first of all thanks to its huge population, but also because avocados are still virtually unknown there.
Regarding exorters, South Africa’s export figures have been revised downwards: down to 16 million 4-kilo boxes from an initial estimate of 18.5 million, due to both the continent’s lockdown, and avocados being smaller in size due to the dry weather and heat. Mexico faces competition from Peru, where production continues to increase. Peru’s core strategy is to expand its production and gain a larger share of the world market, especially in North America and Europe. Large volumes are expected to be exported to the US from mid-June to October. The production continues to grow and at least 90,718 tons of avocados are expected to be shipped to that destination this season. Colombia is currently in the off-season, with low production, but is working hard to expand in the global market.
The Commission for the Promotion of Peru for Export and Tourism (Promperu) reports that Peru has positioned itself as Europe’s main supplier of Hass avocado (Fresh Plaza, 30 June). Peruvian avocado shipments to Europe between January and March 2020 totaled $64 million, 69% more than in the same period of 2019, according to Promperu. Peru is the third-largest exporter of avocado in the world and avocado is one of the country’s three main non-traditional export products. The countries that recorded the highest demand in the first quarter of 2020 were the Netherlands (+60.2%), Spain (+97.8%) and Russia (+250.3%). “This great growth is due to new investments made in northern Peru, mainly in Olmos, where a lot of avocados were planted in order to extend the campaign,” said Daniel Bustamante, president of ProHass.
Pineapple market struggling post-COVID
“Over the past week, pineapples were sold far below the desired price level in day trading and it does not look like it will get better in the coming weeks,” says Frank Ocampo of Netherlands-based Hagé International (Fresh Plaza, 29 June). “There is too much speculation, with conflicting reports from Costa Rica and Panama.” In addition, the consumption of many exotics, including pineapples, has fallen sharply in recent months. This post-COVID market shows that the patterns of lower spending have a direct impact on food that is not part of the basic package. Pineapple is not a staple food, unlike top fruit and citrus, which have been going well so far (with the exception of limes).
Latin America-EU International Conference in the framework of the European Green Deal
The European Union has announced changes to its trading standards, as well as the inclusion of new phytosanitary, environmental and CSR requirements for international trade (Fresh Plaza, 30 June). An international digital conference, “European Green Deal: challenges and opportunities for agro-producers and exporters in Latin America”, will be held on Tuesday 14 July to address this new scenario. The goal of the conference is to bring the Latin American private sector closer to the most relevant European institutional actors, where they will be able to listen to and debate with MEPs, ambassadors and institutional communication professionals.
Date: Tuesday 14 July
9.30 a.m. (San Salvador, Tegucigalpa, Managua, Guatemala City)
10.30 am (Quito, Bogota, Lima, San Jose, Mexico City, Panama)
11.30 am (Asuncion, Port-au-Prince, Santo Domingo, La Paz, Asunción, Santiago de Chile)
12.30 p.m. (Sao Paulo, Montevideo, Buenos Aires)