Saturday 06 March 2021

Avocados more popular than ever but at an environmental cost

Avocados at farmers market

The Netherlands remains Europe’s foremost ‘avocado hub’, according to figures from statistics agency CBS, but environmentalists claim the popularity of the fruit is affecting biodiversity.

Some €1.1bn worth of avocados came into the Netherlands last year, over 90% of which was re-exported to other European countries.

While the Dutch are eating four times as many avocados as in 2008, or some twelve a year, the rise is mainly driven by demand abroad, the CBS said.

The Dutch were introduced to avocados some 15 years ago, Adriëlle Dankier, director of avocado firm Nature’s Pride, told broadcaster NOS. ‘We told people avocado is very tasty and let them taste guacamole in supermarkets.’

The company processes a million and a half avocados a week and exports them to 28 European countries of which Germany and Scandinavia are the main takers. ‘Only 30% of people currently buy avocados and we are expecting growth to continue,’ Dankier said.

Most avocados come from Peru, Chile, Colombia, South Africa and Mexico. Avocado growing uses up a lot of water and woods are being sacrificed to meet demand reducing biodiversity, environmentalists have warned.

Mexican researcher Manuel Ochoa Ayala said the avocado boom is causing ‘environment havoc’ and called on consumers to take this into account ‘the next time you’re eating your guacamole and tortilla chips’.

Nature’s Pride said it is working with growers to improve sustainability and cut back on water use.

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