Avocado consumption is growing not only in the U.S. Global markets are snapping up the fruit. The United Kingdom, Japan, South Korea and numerous other countries are active in the market, suppliers say.

Those global opportunities are getting the attention of U.S.-based grower-shippers.

“The other export markets are an important piece of our business,” said Doug Meyer, vice present of sales and marketing at Murietta, Calif.-based West Pak Avocado Inc.

China’s mainland market is attracting attention, and it is opening up to more avocado imports than before. Chile is the latest example.

In July, the Fruit Exporters Association of Chile announced that the Agricultural Attache of the Embassy of Chile in China, Alvaro Aspee, and the deputy director of the Chinese Animal and Plant Quarantine Supervision, Chen Hongjun, signed in Beijing the initial protocol for Chilean avocado exports to China. 

Ronald Bown, the association’s president, said the agreement was a key first step in opening China to Chilean avocados. Chile’s Minister of Agriculture, Carlos Furche, will sign a finalized document during his visit to China in early September, Bown said. 

“The signing of this initial protocol is very good news for the industry,” Bown said. 

Other countries of origin are monitoring that situation closely, according to U.S.-based marketers.

“Their consumption per-capita is obviously very low, but hass avocados are making their way into China from different parts of the world,” Meyer said.

It would be a giant new market for avocados, but the effects also would ripple through to other markets, such as the U.S., Meyer said.

“That will play a role in global supply and demand,” he said.

How much an effect China ultimately will have on global supply stream is still a matter of conjecture, said Rob Wedin, vice president of sales and marketing with Santa Paula, Calif.-based Calavo Growers Inc.

“The shipments to Asia are very heavy or primarily out of Mexico, so the question on everybody’s mind is when is China going to take off?” Wedin said.

Wedin said he didn’t have an answer to that question, but he also noted that the U.S. remains an extremely attractive market, and avocados are being grown worldwide.

“All the cards need to be played to keep this thing going along as well as it is,” Wedin said.

There are other markets, too, that will affect U.S. supplies, said David Fausset, salesman/category manager with Oxnard, Calif.-based Mission Produce Inc.

“Demand continues to build globally, with tremendous opportunities on both continents and new markets continuing to emerge as people are adding avocados to their daily diets,” he said.

Other Asian markets already are strong consumers of avocados, said Dana Thomas, president of Riverside, Calif.-based grower-shipper Index Fresh Inc.

“Asia is a great market, whether it’s Japan, Taiwan or Hong Kong,” he said.

Northern Europe has developed a strong appetite for avocados over recent years, too, Thomas said.

“I think you’ll continue to see that grow more and more,” he said.

Fallbrook, Calif.-based Del Rey Avocado Co. Inc. had been shipping fruit to Europe and Japan in recent years but largely bypassed those markets this year, said Bob Lucy, partner.

“There was enough fruit from Chile and enough fruit from Peru to take care of that need,” he said.