Avocado imports up by 19 percent in 2020

© Hollandse Hoogte / Westend61 GmbH
More and more, the Netherlands has developed into a gateway to Europe for avocados from around the world. In 2020, Dutch imports of avocados showed 19 percent year-on-year growth. The Netherlands is the world’s second largest importer of avocados and the largest non-producing exporter. Statistics Netherlands (CBS) reports this on the basis of new figures.

Dutch imports of avocados from outside the EU increased from 15 million kg in 2000 to 373 million kg in 2020. They still amounted to 313 million kg in 2019. Since 2012, the Netherlands has imported more avocados from outside the Union than all other EU countries combined; the gap has only widened further since then. The Netherlands is currently good for 63 percent of all EU imports of avocados produced outside the Union. In 2000, this share was 15 percent.

The bulk of avocado imports is destined for the European hinterland (i.e. either re-exports or quasi-transit trade). Approximately 9 percent - slightly over half - is destined for the domestic market. The trade in avocados has evolved into a logistic specialisation for the Netherlands with, aside from forwarding and distribution, the maturing, inspections and packaging where applicable. The main entry point is the Port of Rotterdam. The avocados usually leave the Netherlands again by lorry.

Extra-EU import of avocados
 Dutch imports (million kg)Other EU imports (million kg)
Source: CBS, Eurostat (2020 figures for other EU countries are estimates)

Dutch avocado imports worth over 1 billion euros

Including imports from within the EU, in 2019 the Netherlands shipped in altogether 349 million kg of avocados. Worldwide the Netherlands is the second largest importer of avocados, following the United States at a large distance (1,105 million kg). The US mostly imports from Mexico, the world’s largest avocado producer (and its neighbour); Mexico is also the world’s largest exporter. The Netherlands ranks second in this respect, but at a great distance and just before Peru (another country with avocado production). The Netherlands exports almost exclusively to European countries such as Germany (26 percent) and France (19 percent).

In 2020, Dutch avocado imports (intra-EU imports included) had a volume of 415 million kg. This is 19 percent more than in the previous year (349 million kg). It was the first time the value of avocado imports exceeded 1 billion euros. The value increased by 15 percent: from 0.92 billion euros in 2019 to 1.06 billion euros in 2020. This is the highest import value among the various types of fruits (slightly exceeding bananas and grapes).

Main avocado importers, including intra-EU trade, 2019
LandAvocado imports (million kg)
Source: CBS, UN Comtrade

Peru main supplier, Colombia and Kenya on the rise

In 2020, the largest supplier of avocados to the Netherlands was Peru with a share of 33 percent in total import weight. This was also the case in 2019 (share of 27 percent), but back in 2010 the leading supplier was South Africa, followed by Peru and Chile. Chile’s position declined in 2020 but the country has retained its position as the second largest supplier. Two newly emerging countries delivering avocados to the Netherlands are Colombia and Kenya. Between 2010 and 2020, Colombia’s share grew from 0 to 12 percent. In the same period, Kenya’s share increased from 3 to 7 percent.

Mexico’s avocado exports are mainly focused on the United States; however, its export share to the Netherlands has increased over the past decade, from 2 percent in 2010 to 9 percent in 2019, dropping slightly to 7 percent in 2020.

Main origin countries in Dutch avocado imports
 2010 (% of imported weight)2019 (% of imported weight)2020 (% of imported weight)
South Africa27109

Avocado consumption high in Mexico

According to external sources, the annual per capita consumption of avocados in Mexico stands at 6.5 to 7.0 kg. This is consumption in a broad sense: avocados that are available for the domestic market, i.e. including consumption for serving in food establishments, processing into other products, and wasted product. Other relatively large consumers of avocados include the United States (3.5 kg per capita) and Canada (2.5 kg per capita). The EU is significantly below those levels with 1.2 kg per capita. The Netherlands is one of the countries in the EU where the avocado enjoys great popularity. In 2020, domestically available avocado amounted to an estimated 2.2 kg per capita. The avocado is comparatively much less popular among the population of Japan (0.6 kg) and Russia (0.2 kg).