“The first shipment has just arrived at Mumbai port. And there are many metric tonnes more to come!” When Kenya’s deputy high commissioner to India Irene Olio said those words and cut a celebratory cake this week, she was referring not to some major or strategic trade launch, but the arrival of the first batch of avocados to India from the African country.
But don’t rule out this fruit so easily. Billed ‘the green gold,’, the avocado is now the most exported fruit in the world. Considering its sky-rocketing popularity, the export and import of avocado has become a high stakes, big bucks trade bonanza that has garnered the attention of countries as well as agro export-import businesses in India and around the world.
It isn’t hard to figure out why. It is perhaps the most trending imported fruit in the country in recent years, with enthusiasm emanating as much from fitness enthusiasts as much as from urban professionals looking for cleaner and more ‘benefiting’ health food alternatives. With consumption and popularity going up, it is no longer an exotic fruit, and regularly pops up in restaurant menus and diet plans.
While there is a small amount of avocados cultivated within the country, most of the avocados you may find in supermarket aisles or on e-grocers are imported. Major importers include South American countries, which is literally the home of this fruit (though historically it is the Spanish invaders who first planted it there) as well as the Netherlands.
All this means avocado remains a high-end premium product in India. That could change with Kenya, the top avocado producer in Africa, entering the fray. While one piece of avocado could cost as much as Rs 100, the arrival of the Kenyan variant could bring the prices down. In fact, the Kenyans had to go through eight years of nifty negotiations before India allowed imports this August, with the first shipment coming in on Wednesday.
And waiting in the wings are other major avocado producers, like Australia. Armed with the recent free trade treaty, the Aussies have already sent trial shipments this summer, and are waiting for the final word from the Indian government. “Full access (for Australian avocados) will be granted if these shipments meet India’s import requirements,” says an official note by Australia’s trade department, which has already called on interested avocado exporters in the country to contact Avocados Australia and await further announcements.
“Avocado consumption is on the rise in India due to its health benefits, but availability remains limited,” said Umesh Kamble of the business chamber ASSOCHAM, adding that avocados could get even more popular once more avocado-based products and menus tailored to the Indian palate and consumer preference become available.