Antioquia Hosts Launch of Colombia’s Biggest Hass Avocado Export Plant
Colombia Minister of Agriculture Andres Valencia on January 18 hailed the start-up of the nation’s biggest Hass avocado export plant at Sonson, Antioquia, targeting the European and Saudi Arabian markets.
The new plant, a joint venture between South Africa-based Westfalia Group and Chile-based Agricom, aims to help Colombia meet a goal over the next two years to export at least US$100 million worth of Hass avocados annually, according to the Minister.
The new plant will buy avocados mainly from smaller local producers, aiming to help them find attractive, stable export markets, as well as boosting their access to financial credits, according to the Minister.
Colombia currently produces more than 400,000 tons/year of various types of avocados, ranking fifth globally.
Between 2015 and 2017, Colombia’s Hass avocado exports skyrocketed by 413%, and then rose another 38% last year, hitting US$73 million in export value, Valencia said, citing local Corpohass trade-association statistics.
That association reported 15,530 hectares dedicated to Hass avocado production in Colombia, with full-year 2018 output estimated at 95,250 tons, he added.
The latest plant expansion in Sonson “reflects rising investor confidence in Colombia,” added Westfalia Fruit Colombia general manager Pedro Aguilar-Niño.
Machinery for the new plant came from New Zealand-based Compac, a división of Tomra Food. The new plant can process more tan 20 tons per hour, and during 2019 it would handle up-to-4-million kilos per year, according to the company.
Together with Westfalia’s sister processing plant in nearby Guarne, Antioquia, Westfalia estimates that it will be able to export some 9 million kilos of Hass avocados from Colombia this year.