As first published by: https://desktop.eurofruitmagazine.com/2021/08/14/zz2-branches-out/content.html
The well-known South African tomato producer ZZ2 has entered the avocado category in a bid to diversify its product range.
ZZ2, the company behind one of Southern Africa’s best-loved tomato brands, is looking to make a splash in avocados. The Limpopo Province-based producer has made significant investments in its avocado business over the past few years in a bid to feed growing global demand, including the construction of one of the world’s biggest avocado packhouses, due to open in early 2022.
The 11,200m2 facility will be used to pack avocados and tomatoes and service ZZ2’s strategic partnership with Mission Produce and Core Fruit.
Due to the stagnation of the South African economy, the company took the decision a number of years ago to diversify its product range into more export-focused products so that it could continue growing its business.
“At that stage we were already familiar with the avocado business albeit on a small scale. We kept receiving positive signals from the markets regarding the demand for avocados, so we decided to expand our plantings to cater for the increased demand,” marketing manager Clive Garret tells Fresh Focus Avocado.
He is confident that in time new markets will open to South Africa, such as China, India, Japan, South Korea and Vietnam, and that ZZ2 – and the entire South African avocado industry – will be ideally placed to service these markets, having a significant advantage over South American suppliers in terms of time to market and logistical costs.
“The world is moving predominantly to the Hass variety types due to their thicker skins and therefore less chance of damage to fruit and the fact that they colour up on ripening,” says Garret. “There is still however a place for the green skin varieties especially at certain times of the year.”
Together with its in-house agronomists and nursery operation, ZZ2 works closely with a number of institutions to see if it can develop new varieties.
With regard to packaging and shipping, meanwhile, Garret notes that there has been some move away from the traditional 4kg carton to a 10kg plastic crate. “The benefits of the plastic crate are that they offer improved ventilation both in terms of cooling and ripening.
The use of ethylene inhibitors is also becoming more widely used especially in some varieties and some specific counts,” he explains.
“When packing large enough volumes for specific clients, we are finding it beneficial to pack the container on the farm. In this way the cold chain is assured.”
Garret foresees a bright future for avocados, especially since the advent of the pandemic, which has spurred the move towards a healthier way of eating. “We keep seeing an increase in per capita consumption of avocados worldwide despite there still being many countries that hardly know the fruit,” he says.
“If one also takes into account the versatility of the avocado that can be eaten with any meal we believe the category can only keep growing.”