Little more than two months after the US Department of Agriculture opened US markets to Hass avocado imports from Colombia, the first fruit has been packed in preparation for its journey via container-ship from the Port at Cartagena to California-based Long Beach Port.
Staff at the state-of-the-art packhouse in Guarne, Antioquia, are understandably excited – as are the growers whose avocados will soon be gracing American supermarket shelves. Westsole Fruit Colombia (WFC), the operation co-owned by leading multinational avocado supplier Westfalia Fruit and its Chilean partner, Exportadora Subsole, has played a pivotal role in setting the stringent standards required for satisfying the demands of export markets such as the USA. Running a world-class packhouse to service its own orchards and those of over 100 associated local growers, WFC began exporting avocados to Europe in 2012. During the 2016-2017 export season, the operation shipped more than one million 4kg cartons.
The first organisation to recognise Colombia’s potential as a new avocado origin, the Westfalia Fruit Group brought specialised technical expertise into the fledgling industry in the form of production, logistics, cooling and packing proficiency, followed shortly by its superior plant material which will be of enormous long-term benefit to the industry.
Notes Westsole GM Pedro Aguilar: “We managed to overcome the teething issues involved in getting GlobalGAP in place, and working out effective management programmes tailored to our unique Colombian conditions.” The operation packs only 100% export-quality, Category 1 fruit, and is determined to change outdated perceptions about the Colombian avocado industry.
“We follow the best possible agricultural and manufacturing practices, focussing on fruit quality and on doing things right, from our nurseries to our farms, from packing and shipping to our marketing practices.” An ongoing commitment to social and environmental sustainability is also integral to the operation’s business strategy, setting an example for other industry players to follow.
Colombian Hass avocados are produced under ideal growing conditions and can be harvested almost year-round with great maturity levels. Furthermore, Colombia’s location guarantees the freshness of arrivals to most of the major markets, making it a reliable source for top-quality Hass.
The opening of the US market for Colombian Hass Avocados gives Colombian growers access to the largest consumption market which will drive further developments to this industry. Westsole and its growers recognise the importance of the work done to date by ICA, APHIS and CorpoHass in this regard. Aguilar was a guest of honour at the signing of the historic agreement in Bogotá on 16 August, and will join other dignitaries in witnessing the closing of the first container of avocados at Cartagena Port on Thursday 2 November.
Westfalia Fruit’s North American operation based in Camarillo, California, will also play a critical role in fulfilling the Group’s global marketing strategy, as it prepares to receive the premium-quality Colombian Hass to service a local customer in the retail sector. The Group’s integrated supply chain is instrumental in ensuring year-round supply of both triggered and ripened fruit. For more information on how can you expand your Agribusiness from or to Latin America, ask FGH´s International Agribusiness, Latin America's leading Agribusiness Consulting firm.