Can you provide some background on Peru’s supply of avocados to India?
Luis Cabello: The opening of new markets is one of the priorities for Peru as far as the trade sector is concerned. In 2019, Peru was recognised as the second-largest exporter of avocados in the world, and without any doubt, one of the largest players internationally for avocados in the last ten years.
Considering the fact that India is a market with great potential for Peruvian avocado exporters, the PromPeru India office has made efforts to ensure that the product has access to this important economy.
India opened up to Peruvian avocados in 2016 after phytosanitary requirements were finalised, and the first consignment of 2.1 tonnes was sent to India in September 2017.
By how much have Peruvian avocado export volumes to India grown? In which areas in India is there particular demand for Peruvian avocados?
LC: Peruvian exports of avocados to India have grown in a steady manner, starting with the first consignment sent by air. The first maritime shipment of a refrigerated container took place in 2018, which reached the Port of Nhava Sheva, Mumbai, in July that year.
According to the customs authorities of Peru, the export volume to India in the year 2018 came to be 102.8 tonnes, which grew to 176.5 tonnes in 2019. At the moment, we can say that avocados are a fairly new product in the Indian market, with consumption concentrated in the tier-one cities – mainly Delhi, Bangalore and Mumbai. Nevertheless, its presence in different markets in India is increasing slowly, driven by the recognition of its health benefits.
Are Peruvian avocados supplied to India year-round?
LC: Although Peru produces and exports avocados almost throughout the entire year, the most important export volumes are obtained between the months of May and August every year, mainly from the coast of Peru.
It is important to mention that Peru is undertaking various projects to increase the production areas for various products, including avocados. Additionally, there are growing projects in the highlands of Peru aimed at extending avocado production periods.
In India, Peruvian avocados can be found in markets between the months of June and September, and are recognised by consumers for their superior quality.
Where are Peruvian avocados being sold in India – at retail level or wholesale level?
LC: Currently, there are two important importers who are bringing in Peruvian avocados, making them available in all the wholesale markets in New Delhi, Mumbai and Bangalore.
However, there are other importers too who are showing interest in importing Peruvian avocados, given the fact that the Indian consumer is recognising the health benefits related to the consumption of avocados and the quality of our product, thus consuming more.
It is important to keep in mind that avocados are in the introduction phase in the Indian market. Thus, at the moment, avocados are mainly available in the organised retail chains in cities.
Moreover, these retailers can manage cold storage well. This is important because cold storage management is vital in maintaining the quality of Hass avocados until they reach the final consumer.
At a later stage, when the product is consolidated in the Indian market, its presence at different points of retail would also increase.
How have Indian consumers reacted to Peruvian avocados so far?
LC: The uniformity of texture in Hass avocados, their flavour and versatility in the kitchen, are some of the reasons why consumers prefer them to other local and imported varieties. The reaction of the Indian consumer is also positive for two key reasons.
The first is related to the increasing interest of the Indian consumer in food, which includes added health benefits. In this sense, the benefits of consuming avocados are quite well known: high concentration of calcium, high fi bre content, high levels of mono saturated acids, rich in folic acid, and very useful in combating high levels of cholesterol and triglycerides. Consumption of avocados is also known to promote weight-loss, protect eyesight, it is extremely rich in antioxidants too.
The second reason is cultural, considering the fact that it is a vegetarian source of all of the health benefits mentioned earlier.
Given this, PromPeru’s India office has begun carrying out tastings of Hass avocados, which aided in confirming that the texture and flavour of this avocado are in fact preferred by the Indian consumer. The Peruvian avocado can now be found in various hotels, restaurants and cafes, which have incorporated the fruit in varied types of menus. This is a result of all the hard work undertaken jointly by this office and the importers. They too play a very important role in the introduction of the Peruvian avocado in the Indian market.
I understand that one of the big challenges is the long transit time by sea. Does this mean the fruit does not have long before it has to be sold on arrival?
LC: This is one of the principal obstacles the Peruvian exporters must face when trying to consolidate their presence in distant markets like Asia, and particularly in India. Fortunately, the maritime consignments of avocados withstand the 55 days it takes the fruit reaches India.
This presents a challenge not only to Peruvian exporters who must harvest the fruit at the exact time of maturity, but to the Indian importers who are required to keep the fruit in cold storage up until it reaches points of retail. The final aim is to ensure that the product reaches the consumer in the best possible condition.
Can you tell us about what PromPeru India is doing with ProHass and the Indian importers in terms of market development and promotion in India?
LC: Both of us as organisations are executing an ambitious plan aimed at developing the Indian market for the Peruvian avocados. This plan of action, in general terms, includes initial tasting activities in some of the important retail points (organised retail chains). Another activity planned with the aim of increasing the consumption of avocados is the presence of the brand “Avocados from Peru” at important fairs in the food sector in India. Seminars directed at specialised public, and simultaneous promotion in print media, are some other activities. Additionally, trade missions have also been planned for the market, allowing the Peruvian exporters to interact with Indian importers. This plan will be executed depending upon the response from the market.
What do you anticipate in terms of market growth in India over the next five years?
LC: Our estimations suggest that the Indian market will continue to import avocados. We will wait until the end of the year in order to have access to a be er approximation of the growth rate of the consumption of this fruit for the coming years, and on the basis of that, put into execution our promotion plan. We have no doubt that India will soon become one of the principal markets in the Asian region; much like China and Japan, markets where the Peruvian avocado is already consolidated as a product.
The main objectives of the promotional campaign “Avocados from Peru”, directed by our office are the consolidation of the product in the market, and becoming the foremost exporter of avocados to the Indian market. Currently, Peru is the second-largest exporter of avocados in the world, and we will use this advantage in consolidating ourselves in the Indian market too.
Why is developing the Indian market important to Peru?
LC: India represents endless opportunities for Peruvian producers and exporters, not only of avocados, but those of grapes, citrus and blueberries too. We take this opportunity to announce that Peru has become the world’s largest exporter of blueberries.
The opportunities found in the Indian market are owing to the rapid economic growth of the Indian market, the growing middle class and the diversification of food habits, which allows Indian consumers to include new products in their diets.
The positioning of the product goes hand-in-hand with the strategy of positioning the brand. PromPeru India is working hard to introduce a wider basket of Peruvian superfood products to India.