I happened to run across a USDA FAS report on Swedish pigs and a particular paragraph from the report struck me as amusing.



The Swedish pig sector is currently shaken by a set of film clips
revealing severe deficiencies in animal care at Swedish pig farms. The
creator of the films is a group of animal rights activists that wants
to shatter the myth that Swedish pigs are happier than pigs in other
countries.




As far as myth-busting goes, I had no idea that Swedish consumers
harbored a conviction that their pigs were substantially "happier" than
those from Denmark or Germany. Keeping Wilbur happy and content before
slaughter - there can be no great payoff for the pig, I must say.

One of the benefits of coming to this site is that I will keep you apprised of important fruit and vegetable related reports from various agencies within the government. To this end, I submit that avocado suppliers and buyers will want to check out the USDA FAS annual report on Mexican avocados.  Highlights excerpted below.

AVOCADO ANNUAL
Mexican Avocado Production to Increase
Approved By: Allan Mustard Prepared By: Gabriel Hernandez and Mark Ford Report

Highlights: Mexican Hass avocado production for MY2009/10 is expected to reach a record 1.18 million metric tons (MMT) due to favorable weather conditions throughout the year and the continued increase of phytosanitary programs to control pests

Hass avocado exports are forecast to reach 400,000 MT with approximately 304,000 MT being exported to the United States. Meanwhile, exports of California Hass avocados to Mexico in MY 2009/10 are forecast to decrease to 100 MT due to higher prices and a smaller crop.

Production: For MY 2009/10, Mexican Hass avocado production is forecast to reach a record 1.18 million metric tons (MMT), which is 5.6 percent higher than production in MY 2008/09.

Sources indicate production will increase due to a high alternate-bearing cycle, favorable weather conditions throughout the year and the continued implementation of phytosanitary programs to control pests. Even though there is the potential for harsh weather in Michoacán in late 2009 and early 2010, producers are confident the blooming stages will not be significantly affected. Producers continue to apply the best agricultural practices to ensure the highest quality and food safety of avocadoes, either for export or for supplying the domestic market.

 Producers in Michoacán are taking the appropriate steps to cope with food safety requirements that would certify that all procedures (production and packaging) are implemented in the safest way possible. Producers in Michoacán plan to invest nearly $2 million (U.S.) in cutting edge technology to assure that avocados are free of pests and any chemical or biological residue.

Producers expect to have everything implemented by June 2010. Michoacán is the world leader in avocado production and accounts for 92 percent of the total Mexican avocado production. Despite the continued presence of good weather conditions and ample water supplies, production in MY 2008/09 was revised down approximately 2.2 percent due to a lower than expected alternate-bearing cycle. However, production in MY 2008/09 is still higher than MY 2007/08, which remains unchanged and reflects official data.


CROP AREA The official forecast for total area planted for MY 2009/10 is 127,950 hectares, which is four percent higher compared to the revised MY 2008/09 planted area estimate. In recent years, planted area has increased since there is greater international demand for high-quality Mexican Hass avocados.

Simultaneously, the APHIS list of authorized pest-free municipalities in Michoacán continues to grow and allows producers to export to the United States. Currently, 18 Michoacán municipalities are certified to export to the United States, and it is expected that a total of 22 municipalities will be certified during the MY 2009/10 season. State authorities confirm that Michoacán has devoted roughly 98,000 hectares to Hass avocado production, and neighboring states, specifically Jalisco and Mexico, have also increased their planted area.

According to state government sources, avocado producers in Michoacán are focusing their expansion efforts on the untapped markets in other Mexican states. Currently, the APHIS–administered export inspection program has certified that 46,243 hectares can be used to export to the United States.

 Phytosanitary authorities in Michoacán have requested that APHIS certify 59,000 hectares for the current growing season, which started October 15 and goes through April 14, 2010. Post forecasts that approximately 50,000-52,000 hectares could be certified at the end of the growing season.

However, Michoacán is currently the only state in Mexico that is authorized to export avocados to the United States. Within Michoacán, APHIS has certified the following municipalities can export to the United States: Acuitzio, Tancitaro, Uruapan, Tingüindin, Salvador Escalante, Nuevo Parangaricutiro, Periban de Ramos, Ario de Rosales, Los Reyes, Apatzingan, Taretan, Tacambaro, Tingambato, Madero, Cotija, Ziracuaretiro, Tuxpan and Turicato. During this marketing year, Ciudad Hidalgo, Irimbo, Paracuaro and Tangamandapio are expected to be certified.

Producers from neighboring states (Mexico and Jalisco) continue to implement phytosanitary and good agricultural practices in their avocado producing areas with the hope of eventually receiving certification to export to the United States. Currently, Jalisco is the only other state that has made significant advances towards obtaining an APHIS export certification, which could occur in the next couple of years. However, Jalisco’s primary short-term objective is to solidify its market share in the Central American countries and various European countries. For the most part, Jalisco’s growing practices are similar to those used in Michoacán.

Trade: Mexican avocado exports are forecast to reach 400,000 MT in MY 2009/10, which is approximately the same as the MY 2008/09 forecast. This sustained exported volume is possible due to a combination of factors, such as the year-round market access to all 50 U.S. states and the assumption that international markets will continue to purchase higher-quality avocadoes from Mexico. Michoacán growers currently have the capacity to harvest 10-15 MT/ha, and industry sources forecast that MY 2009/10 avocado exports to the United States will increase 10 percent.

Production in Chile and California is expected to rebound after suffering a decreased production due to harsh weather. Exports to the United States in MY 2008/09 were nearly 304,000 MT, while exports in MY 2006/07 were 215,000 MT. The overall export forecast for MY 2008/09 was revised upward to 400,985 MT due to an increase in demand from international markets and reflects updated official data. As of January 31, 2005, Mexican Hass avocados were granted access to all U.S. states except California, Florida, and Hawaii. On February 1, 2007, Mexican Hass avocados were allowed access into all 50 states on a year-round basis. Currently, 25 packers are officially eligible to export Mexican avocados to the United States under the APHIS export program.

The main destinations for Mexican Hass avocados within the United States are: Texas, Illinois, New York, Georgia, Colorado, Arizona, Washington, Massachusetts, Maryland, Indiana, Minnesota, Kansas, Oregon, North Carolina, and Florida. Although the majority of avocado exports are destined for the United States, other markets including Japan, Canada, France, and El Salvador are also significant. Currently, China is an untapped market that Mexico is seeking to enter, and unlike the United States, other markets do not require APHIS accreditation.

According to both official and private sources, the export market continues to be profitable to producers, but the domestic market still represents the main business platform for most Mexican avocado farmers. Official data indicates that Mexican avocados were exported to the United States, Japan, Canada, and El Salvador. However, exports to Japan and the EU continue to represent a strategic market niche for producers and packers. In September 2005, USDA and SAGARPA signed a work plan to allow U.S. Hass avocados access to Mexico.