The South African Avocado industry has estimated that the 2021 harvest will be around 16 million 4kg cartons of avocados, up from the 2020 season total of 15 million cartons. The continuous growth of the avocado crop is due to growing global demand for this superfood product.
The South African avocado productions look set to continue growing for at least the next decade. There are currently approximately 14700 hectares of avocados planted in South Africa, and this figure continues to grow by approximately 800 hectares annually. As it can take six to eight years for new orchards to reach full production, the growth phase in this is set to continue over the short to medium term.
South Africa’s avocado exports are shipped mostly to Europe, the United Kingdom (UK), and Russia. These destinations account for up to 95% of South Africa’s avocado exports. The steady increase in avocado productions is good news for the South African economy. The exports earn much needed foreign revenue for the country and the increased employment opportunities this creates in various production regions across the country is bettering the standard of living for people living in these rural areas.
Photo: Melvin Chavez
Avocados are traditionally produced in warm subtropical areas in South Africa. The Northern most province of Limpopo produces more than half of the avocados (58%) and followed by the northeastern provinces of Mpumalanga (42%) and KwaZulu-Natal (14%). Following the increased global demand for avocados, production has been expanding in newer, non-traditional production regions in the Western Cape (2%) and Eastern Cape (2%) provinces.
The South African avocado harvest season runs from February to October. The expansion in production and geographic areas across the country is also assisting South Africa to stretch its supply window to ensure more fruit becomes available outside the peak season, when South African shippers face strong competition from Peruvian fruit in the market. Growers aim to get their Hass avocados to the market by late May or early June, before large arrivals from Peru. New plantings in early and late areas are extending the industry’s production period. Within the early Hass production window, the industry is expecting more Maluma and Carmen varieties in the early season, while Gem and Lamb Hass are expected to boost the late season.