The first containers of Colombian avocados destined for the United States were loaded onto vessels at the Port of Cartagena on Thursday, November 2, during a ceremony that included Colombian avocado growers and packers, Colombian Secretary of Agriculture Juan Guillermo Zuluaga, Instituto Colombiano Agropecuario (ICA) officials, and a special message from the President of Colombia, Juan Manuel Santos.
In conjunction with its Colombian partner Cartama, Mission Produce is now set to receive the first entry of avocados from Colombia into the United States. Working with the grower Hasspacol, the first shipment is scheduled to arrive early next week into Port Everglades, Florida, making it the first Colombian fruit on U.S. soil.
According to Mission’s CEO Steve Barnard, the opening of Colombia will have a positive impact on the U.S. market. “Our customers expect us to be pioneers in the global avocado supply chain. Our involvement in Colombia extends Mission’s footprint to yet another country, and enhances our ability serve our customers as this category continues to boom globally.”
“ICA is Colombia’s agriculture and food safety authority, and has been instrumental in developing the phytosanitary requirements for export to the U.S.,” said Cartama’s CEO Ricardo Uribe. “We worked closely with Emilio Arevalo, the Technical Director at ICA, and with APHIS, in assuring that the strict requirements of the export protocol were met and that all future farms adhere to this protocol.”
This shipment, on a Hapag Lloyd service, sailed on Friday, November 3, with scheduled delivery on Monday, November 6. Once the shipment clears inspections it will be moved directly to Mission’s Atlanta forward distribution center for further inspection before being delivered to the final customer.
Brent Scattini, Mission’s Vice President of Sales & Marketing, indicated that there is strong interest in Colombian fruit from a retailer perspective. “Since the announcement about Colombia being allowed into the U.S., we’ve had customers asking about it, and several wanting to be the first to receive the fruit. We expect volume to build throughout the season, as well as in years to come. Having an additional source, another option, is good for our customer base.”
The fruit for the first arrival was grown by Hasspacol, and packed at Cartama’s facility in Pereira, Colombia, under the Mission and Hasspacol label. “I’m proud to be the first Colombian grower to supply the US market. Proud for my company, my team and my country. We know we have high-quality fruit, and now everyone else will know,” said Jose Luis Gonzalez, Commercial Director of Hasspacol.
Jim Donovan, Mission’s Senior Vice President of Global Sourcing, stated, “Being the first to import Colombian fruit to the US reinforces Mission’s global footprint and leadership in the avocado category. It’s crucial for Mission to capitalize on all available sources to serve our growing customer base. Our partnership with Cartama in Colombia has been in the works for a number of years, and when this opportunity finally came to fruition, we were ready.”
About Mission Produce: Mission Produce operates state-of-the-art avocado packing facilities in California, Mexico, Peru and Chile. In addition, the company’s global distribution network includes nine ripe centers in North America, with additional ripe centers in Europe and China. Over the past 34 years, Mission has grown to become the leader in the worldwide avocado business.
About Cartama: Cartama is the leading producer and distributor of Hass avocados in Colombia. The company produces avocados on nearly 1,000 hectares in Colombia, with a packing plant in Pereira. Since 2000, the company has made a clear commitment to produce and export high-quality Hass avocados, and over the years has consolidated its position by expanding to growing districts throughout Colombia.
Source: Mission Produce, Inc.