Opinion

The Netherlands Remains a Central Hub for Avocado Trade and Distribution in Europe

Published May 17, 2024
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The Netherlands is a crucial hub for the avocado trade in Europe, accounting for over half of all avocado imports and being the world's largest non-producing exporter. Dutch traders specialize in avocado ripening, packing, and shipping, meeting European sustainability standards. Despite its small population of 17.6 million, the Netherlands is a popular consumer of avocados, offering a wide range of options. Imported avocados in the Netherlands can cost between EUR 3 and 4, depending on the average import price/kg. The country is a high-value avocado market, importing commercial types like Hass and Fuerte and minor green skin variants. Imported avocados must comply with Dutch government criteria, including labeling regulations and pesticide residue control. The Dutch market also shows increased interest in Moroccan avocados, which provide better post-ripening outcomes with less waste.

The Netherlands is an essential hub for the avocado trade in Europe, accounting for more than half of all avocado imports. The country is also the world's largest non-producing exporter of avocados, with significant volumes re-exported to Germany, France, and Scandinavian countries, among others. Dutch traders specialize in avocado ripening, packing, and shipping, as well as meeting the diverse sustainability standards of European retail chains. Despite its small population of 17.6 million, the Netherlands is one of Europe's most avid avocado consumers, with merchants offering a wide range of avocados, including pre-packaged, ready-to-eat avocados and small-size avocados for home ripening. However, the Dutch import of avocados fell marginally in 2022 due to increased direct commerce with crucial export markets such as Germany and France. The Netherlands is projected to remain a central trade hub for avocados even though more and more traders are sourcing avocados directly from producing countries. Due to logistical advantages, the Dutch role in the EU avocado trade will still be irreplaceable.

According to the Netherlands Ministry of Foreign Affairs Center for the Promotion of Imports (CBI), a kilogram (kg) of imported avocados in the Netherlands can cost between EUR 3 and 4, depending on the average import price/kg. These are considered optimum prices for traders, while in the past, prices have reached a record low of EUR 2/kg. Avocado retail costs vary according to vendor and time of purchase, with seasonal swings. The Netherlands imports most of its avocados from countries with later seasons during the summer months of June to September and smaller amounts during the rest of the year. The country is regarded as a high-value avocado market, importing significant commercial kinds like Hass and Fuerte and minor commercial green skin variants. Many Dutch consumers prefer Hass avocados because they are less expensive. The logistics costs of importing avocados and the avocado's variety, quality, and size are vital in determining retail prices. Imported avocados must comply with Dutch government criteria, including labeling regulations and pesticide residue control established by the Netherlands Food and Consumer Product Safety Authority (NVWA) and other applicable authorities.

Figure 1: Top Import Origins of Fresh Avocado to Netherlands in 2023

Dutch Import Value of Avocadoes in 2023

Source: Tridge

Peru is at the top in terms of the value of import origins of fresh avocados to the Netherlands in 2023, with a staggering USD 368.38 million, followed by Colombia with USD 167.30 million. The Dutch are maintaining strong trade relationships with Colombian suppliers, where avocados, bananas, coffee, and flowers play a crucial role in bilateral trade.

Furthermore, in recent events, the Dutch market has shown increased interest in Moroccan avocados, which provide better post-ripening outcomes with less waste than other rival origins. Moroccan avocados generate up to 4 to 5 % waste after ripening in the Netherlands, as opposed to up to 20% for Peruvian or Colombian avocados. Despite the lower prices of Latin American avocados, Dutch clients have recognized the economic efficiency of Moroccan avocados as more cost-effective. Moroccan avocado exporters set a new record in the 2023/24 season, exporting 60,000 metric tons (mt), aiming to reach 100,000 mt by 2027.

Tridge expects that despite shifts in trade patterns, the Netherlands' strategic position and expertise in the avocado market will ensure its continued central role in the European avocado trade.

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