US avocado business Mission Produce has formed a joint venture with South Africa farming company ZZ2 Boerdery and private equity firm Criterion Africa Partners to increase its avocado supplies in Europe.
The JV, Selokwe Agri, plans to span 1000ha of avocado orchards in Limpopo, South Africa, with 250ha already developed and ready to harvest this year.
Mission Produce said there was “significant” opportunity to grow the avocado market in Europe, where it plans to direct the majority of the JV’s exports.
“In 2022, the EU’s per capita consumption was 3.3 pounds, compared to the US’s 8.5 pounds,” said Mission Produce founder and CEO Steve Barnard. “The addition of a high-quality source to our existing network strengthens Mission Produce’s position as a global market leader and enhances our ability to drive avocado market growth in the EU.”
Logistics and transportation to Europe will be managed by South Africa-based company Core Fruit.
California-based Mission Produce sources, produces and distributes Hass avocados and mangos and has sites in the US, South America and South Africa. It manages more than 5,500ha of avocado-producing land globally and exports to more than 25 markets. The JV will increase the business’s avocado landmass in production by 19% once the entire 1,000ha orchard has been developed.
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South Africa is the second largest summer-season avocado supplier to the UK and EU; its avocado season extends from February to November with the majority of fruit being harvested from March to September, according to the country’s growers’ association.
Mission Produce said the JV would extend its supply of fresh Hass avocados by two to three months, as it aims to provide year-round supply.
Barnard said: “As global demand for avocados continues to grow, establishing additional sources of owned production through vertical integration is a key element of our sourcing strategy to promote increased supply reliability.
“South Africa is the second largest exporter of avocados to the European Union and the United Kingdom during the summer season. So, our new investment in the region is expected to support our expansion in export markets, especially in conjunction with the anticipated March opening of our newest forward distribution center in the UK.”