China’s $133 million avocado market next for Tanzania

Monday November 29 2021
Avocado pic
By The Citizen Reporter

Arusha. The key player in a multi-million-dollar horticulture industry has set eyes on a $133 million Chinese avocados market, after South Africa cleared the Tanzanian avocados to access its relatively huge market.

“As we sincerely salute the government for its painstaking efforts to strike a bilateral deal for Tanzanian avocados to access the sprawling South African market, we are now eyeing the Chinese market,” said the Taha Group CEO, Ms Jacqueline Mkindi.

As the champion of horticulture in the country, Taha played a central role in supporting the government to persuade the South African government to open up its expansive avocados market to Tanzania.

“The deal between Tanzania and South Africa creates a win-win situation. Whereas Tanzanian exporters are smiling all the way to the bank for securing a niche market for their avocados, South African consumers are also jubilating as the Tanzanian fruit would be cheaper, thanks to functional logistics which ensure freshness of the crop,” Ms Mkindi explained.

The Taha boss said the sky is the limit, as her organisation - working closely with the government - is working overtime to fast-track protocol with China to pave way for local avocado exporters to access the lucrative Beijing market.

Indeed, data from China Customs show that Beijing’s annual avocado demand stands at around 43,860 metric tons (tonnes), valued at $133.38 million. This is a huge potential market for Tanzania growers.

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The opportunity for avocados to enter the China market coincides with the vigorous development of e-commerce in China. Various related sales have exposed Online shopping promotions of avocado sales, so it quickly became a famous fruit, driving the imports volume. However, given the stringent phytosanitary issues that restrict imports of local avocados into China, Tanzanian exporters have never been able to access this lucrative market, largely for lack of bilateral trade arrangements between the two countries.

The process demands that the Tanzania government quarantines pests for the China authority assessment before they open up the market for our avocados.

The same information should also be presented to AQSIQ, the relevant authority in China where the Beijing market access applications are processed.

But, Ms Mkindi said “Avocados from Tanzania would soon be among the items found on the dining tables in China, as the country, ups its game to unlock the multi-million dollar’s Chinese market for local exporters”.

Tanzania and China need to sign an agreement on sanitary and phytosanitary measures to enable the former’s avocado exports to China.

Nearly 9,000 tonnes valued at $30 million were exported by Tanzania in 2020, up from almost zero seven years ago.

“The process to sign the bilateral pact is in high gear, and we hope the deal will be closed for our avocados to access the Chinese market in the nearest future,” Ms she said, adding: “We are eyeing the lion’s share of the Chinese market”.

China’s soaring appetite for avocados, driven by demand from its burgeoning health-conscious middle-class, has made the “butter fruit” the country’s star performer in the imported fruit market. This was unheard of a few years ago.

Agriculture deputy minister Hussein Bashe is on record as saying that the government is now looking forward to unlocking the Asian markets for our avocados.

He revealed this when he was reacting to the decision by the National Plant Protection Organisation of South Africa (NPPOZA) to open its market to Tanzanian avocados after 10 years of dilly-dallying.

A letter from the South African Plant Health’s acting director, Mr Jan Hendrik Venter, dated November 16, 2021 says the decision was reached after a virtual bilateral engagement.

“On November 9, 2021, the National Plant Protection Organization of Tanzania (NPPOT) provided a pre-recorded video presentation to the NPPOZA to verify and pre-test pest-risks management practices in order to allow authorisation of avocados from Tanzania to enter South Africa,” reads in part the letter to the Tanzanian authorities.

It says further that “The NPPOZA wishes to inform Tanzania’s NPPO that, following the presentation of a pre-recorded video inspection and subsequent deliberation during the virtual verification process, the market access for importation of fresh avocado fruit from Tanzania to South Africa has been granted”.

Mr Bashe said that the move was an important milestone for the country’s economy because of harvest season variation between the two countries - adding that Tanzania would supply avocados when it is a low season in South Africa.