Given that avocado is a standard feature of
supermarket shelves in the world’s developed economies, it is easy to forget
that getting this delicacy to the consumer is a complex and costly process.
While avocados grow well in the Eastern Mediterranean and the USA, almost one
third of the world’s entire avocado production comes from Mexico, the Dominican
Republic, Peru, Indonesia, Columbia and Brazil.
Producing over two million tonnes of the fruit, or more than three times as much as second placed Dominican Republic, Mexico is by far the largest producing country. But with 13,000 km of ocean separating it from the eastern seaports of China, it is no wonder that the key export crop was slow to reach the world’s largest single market.
Exponential import growth
Michael Xu, Star Cool Service Manager at MCI Qingdao, explains: “According to figures from the Chinese customs office, imports of avocado in 2011 were just 31,8 tonnes. In 2018, that number had risen to 43,900 tonnes, or nearly 1,400 times more in just seven years.” Over the same period, the retail price has fallen from dozens of Renminbi (RMB) per fruit to as low as 5 RMB during periods of high supply.
Having worked for Star Cool since 2006, Michael has been able to observe these developments first hand. Now 41, he lives near the plant with his wife and two children, who are all fans of the nutritious fruit. While Michael is busy with his tasks at MCIQ, his wife divides her time between the demands of family life and her job at Qingdao Galaxy International School. Their 12-year-old daughter and six-year-old son both attend local schools.
Star Cool CA holds the key
The huge increase in the volume of avocado imports is almost entirely down to advances in reefer container technology, especially Controlled Atmosphere (CA). As Michael observed: “Thanks to Star Cool, we are the market leader in CA. With our advanced and reliable system, we enable producers to reach markets that were previously out of reach to them. Back in 2007, the technology to protect perishable cargoes over great distances simply wasn’t available. Now it is, and producers, importers and consumers are all reaping the benefits.”
Demand for high-respiration fruits like avocado, banana, mango or blueberries has been a key driver of Star Cool CA sales growth. Today, there are over 55,000 CA containers plying their trade across the world’s oceans. Thanks to their efficiency, these reefer containers have extended the transportation window to as much as 45 days, effectively putting all the world’s major markets within reach of even the most distant producers.
A healthy future for all
Michael Xu is proud of Star Cool’s achievements and takes pleasure in the luxuries they bring: “The kids love to eat avocado and my wife and I love the fact that it is so quick and easy to prepare. It’s great being able to offer our children such healthy food, and it’s great that Star Cool had made that truly affordable for us, and millions of others.”