Within a few years, the company Westfalia estimates it will be exporting 10,000 to 15,000 metric tons (MT) of fruit from its own orchards, plus an additional 15,000 metric tons from third-party growers.
The company’s growth coincides with growth in the overall Colombian avocado industry. Westfalia predicts total Colombian exports will increase by at least 30 percent a year, hitting 100,000MT within five years.
The Colombian avocado industry focuses mostly on exports to the European market, but Westfalia believes its operation will increase exports to the U.S. in time, not only because it’s the largest avocado market, but also because of its geographic proximity. Transit times from Columbia to the U.S. are under a week, and are 24 hours less than Mexico when exporting to the U.S. East Coast. The operation also is looking to export avocados to other South American countries and to Canada as Columbia seeks to become a reliable year-round avocado supplier, complementing volumes from Mexico.
Although Westfalia does not foresee Colombia replacing Mexico, it believes Colombia should be a good plan B for the U.S..
“The constant changes within the Mexican industry can be challenging for the trade, especially for retailers and consumers. So I think Colombia could provide more stable conditions with certain volumes for the future.
“I have no doubt in my mind that, in the next few years, the U.S. market will be the most important target market for Colombian avocados.”