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Opportunity: Avocado Exports To Germany

by Jacquiline Nakandi
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By Daniel Karibwije

Uganda has the potential to dominate the avocado trade in Germany. Europe’s largest economy since 1980 is a lucrative market to penetrate.

On a visit to several supermarkets in Berlin and another town, I took note of the size and quality of the Hass avocado variety.

My German friends, who are consumers of avocados are not impressed with the type of avocado on the supermarket shelves. People have little choice, but to consume what is available. Consumers here are not exposed to the nutrient-compact and tasty Ugandan varieties.

I travelled with samples of avocado from Uganda. Everybody appreciated the great taste of the green gold fruit. In business, every problem is an opportunity. Most of the avocados on the German market are from South America, mainly Peru and Chile.

The distance between Peru and Germany is 10,500km, with containers having to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Chile is 12,500km away. Uganda is strategically located near Europe by both air and sea.

According to the International Trade Centre (ITC), in 2022 Germany imported avocados worth $364m. Peru leads the pack with $102m equivalent to 28%. Two East African countries are among the top 10 exporters of avocados to Germany.

This shows that Uganda, with the largest number of water bodies and the highest percentage of fertile arable land, is in a strategic position.

The avocado tree requires considerable water intake to guarantee fruit production. The development of avocado farmer co-operatives will place farmers in a good position and cut out exploitative middlemen who compromise quality.

Avocado export statistics to Germany stand as follows; Chile is in second position with $51m (14%) and the third is Colombia with $41m (11.2%). Other countries are Spain ($36m), Israel ($27m), South Africa ($21m), Netherlands ($21m), Kenya ($20m), Morocco ($19m) and Tanzania at number 10 with $7m.

Mexico is the largest producer of avocados in the world. The main avocado export variety on the international market is Hass. The Fuerte variety should not be underestimated.

This is the sample variety that I shared through random sampling and was impressed by the feedback. Avocados from South America dominate the market.

Though lower in quality than what we have enjoyed over the years in Uganda, they are consistent in production and have the ability to meet large orders.

This means Uganda has a lot of work to do in terms of zoning different growing regions to ensure consistent production all year round, regulation of standards and extension services to farmers.

The National Avocado Federation of Uganda is now operational. The development of different avocado co-operatives in key growing regions of the country will ensure consistency of supply in quality and quantity.

Consumers love avocado with buttery flavour, rich taste, smooth texture and minimal to zero thread.

Hass tops the market because it has a great balance of all on the checklist, including its rugged bumpy skin that favours sea transportation. The physical attributes protect the fruit from getting smashed.

The Fuerte variety has a softer skin and is bigger in size. Though Hass is more recognised, fuerte is one of the best-tasting avocados. Value addition through the production of avocado oil ensures a longer shelf life and more foreign exchange for Uganda.

Avocados are perishable and require detailed logistics and the right infrastructure from farm to fork. To be competitive, exporters need to track the seasonality to forecast expected output all year round. Uganda’s exporters should improve teamwork and not operate in fragmented groups.

The writer is an export trade specialist. dankarib@gmail.com

PHOTO CAPTION: Avocado on supermarket shelves in Germany. Foreigners visiting Uganda are amazed by the taste of the Hass and local avocados.

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