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Guatemala seeks to enter U.S. avocado market

avocado glamor shot

Another candidate is itching to join the league of avocado exporters to the U.S.: Guatemala.

The Central American nation regards the U.S. as an extremely valuable market, given American consumption increases of the fruit and the proximity of the two countries.

Guatemala has been attempting to introduce its avocados to the U.S. since 2004, when it began the application process to comply with American phytosanitary standards.

Currently Guatemala is waiting for the response of USDA’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service (APHIS) to Guatemala’s proposed pest mitigation measures. For two years, its Ministry of Agriculture, Livestock, and Food (MAGA) has conducted four monitorings to detect pests on producing farms. Recently, the fifth test has been conducted on 67 farms.

“Guatemala has complied with all the requirements, especially with the Pest Risk Analysis requested by the United States to achieve the admissibility of this product,” says Jorge Mario Gómez, MAGA director of plant health.

At present, 70 percent of Guatemalan avocado product is destined for Europe, while the rest goes to other Central American countries.

Currently 13,000 hectares in Guatemala are dedicated to avocados. The main avocado-producing departments are Chimaltenango, Sacatepéquez, and Sololá. Gómez notes that the central part of the country is best suited to production of the fruit. Previously the crop was only planted in regions above 1,500 meters above sea level, but cultivation is now possible in lower regions as well.

At present, 5,600 hectares of avocado acreage is dedicated to the Hass variety; others grown include Booth-8 and Creole.

Apart from phytosanitary considerations, one main challenge to the Guatemalan avocado industry is “to have the ability to generate a production volume that meets the requirements of customers and their programs,” observes Freddy Hochstetter, director of the board of directors of the nation’s Agexport Avocado Committee. “It is critical to be a reliable source of fruit, especially as a new player in the market.”

Other challenges are industry growth, including modernization of existing plantations and development of new producing areas, and creating new market opportunities for production, Hochstetter adds.

One estimate says that the global market for avocados will be valued at $19.9 billion by 2026. Avocados: global market value 2026 | Statista


Richard Smoley, contributing editor for Blue Book Services, Inc., has more than 40 years of experience in magazine writing and editing, and is the former managing editor of California Farmer magazine. A graduate of Harvard and Oxford universities, he has published 12 books.