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World Avocado Congress: The opportunity for the Colombian market

Avocado has risen in recent years in the ranking of world exports, putting it at the center of markets in tropical countries like Colombia

Avocado on a tree

Avocado in a tree. / Reference image / Pixabay

LatinAmerican Post | Juliana Suárez

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Leer en español: Congreso Mundial del Aguacate: una catapulta para el mercado Colombiano

From September 23 to 27, the largest event in the avocado industry will be held in Medellin, Colombia, promising growth for the large-scale Colombian and international market.

Because of its optimum soils and temperatures and its growing industry, Colombia was chosen to host the World Avocado Congress 2019 (WAC). In spite of being a barely emerging market and having competed in the call with a country like New Zealand, whose trajectory is much greater than Colombia. Four years ago, the biggest challenge for the avocado industry in Colombia began.

Corpohass, the guild corporation for the production and export of Hass avocado in Colombia, was in charge of creating an event worthy of a product such as avocado. With only 6 years of existence, this corporation has grown alongside the organization of the event, which seeks to connect members of the entire avocado merchant chain worldwide.

The WAC was also organized by Agrilink, experts in the connectivity of the agricultural sector in Colombia and will have 3400 attendees gathered in the largest hall in the city of Medellin, tripling the attendance of the last congress (1057 attendees) in Lima, Peru.

Jorge Enrique Restrepo, director of CorpoHass, and Tomás Ríos, general manager of Agrilink, are the two masterminds behind this great project, and they told LatinAmerican Post, not only about the activities that promise the biggest congress in its 9 editions; but how it will benefit the market in the coming years. The complement between an expert organization in avocado and another focused on the agricultural sector, with extensive experience in this type of event, led the two companies to be the most important allies and create a visionary event that they can not even imagine the results.

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Why Colombia

To begin, Colombia until recently began to export avocado, so its market is just beginning to position itself worldwide. However, it will not take long to grow as conditions favor the coffee country from multiple points of view.

The tropical country can benefit from its geographical position, as it is one of the few large exporters that can produce avocado during all months of the year, thus avoiding shortages that weaken the market. Thus, temperatures are always ideal in the country. In case the climate of any region changes in a certain season, there will be other places in the country where it continues to occur.

In just a few years, avocado in Colombia has become fifth in exports; After coffee, banana, flowers, and oil palm. Worldwide, it competes with countries such as Mexico, Peru, Chile, the United States, and South Africa, but it is the most benefited by its geography and climate.

"Thanks to the termination of an armed conflict with the FARC, the governments of Juan Manuel Santos and Iván Duque have prioritized the distribution of optimal lands for avocado production," says Jorge Enrique Restrepo. In past decades, many Colombian lands could not be used due to increasing violence, so there are currently many lands that could be prosperous for business. This factor has positioned the country over others such as Chile, which although it has more experience, no longer has the same availability of land to continue expanding.

A world-class event

Avomatch, avotours, avotalks, and everything that the avocado can provide will be gathered for a week so that the entire productive sector can enrich themselves from every niche in the production and marketing chain.

The event sold out twice, at first, Agrilink and CorpoHass decided that they should open a new ticket office with certain restrictions but allow more income. An event of 2000 people became one of 3400. The limit allowed by the city and its largest conference hall.

"This is the soccer world cup in the avocado sector, and Colombia is going to hold an unprecedented event," said Tomás Ríos.

The event will have 3 fundamental axes that will bring together all activities: academy, business, and experience. These three unite all the importance of avocado in the world since it includes both the commercial sectors and the scientific and nutritional component, even the society itself and the forms of consumption.

During the congress days, there will be conferences around all these aspects of avocado, and they will also include other talks of the agricultural industry, not only in relation to avocado, so the event may also be of interest to other sectors of the agricultural industry.

In the event, 60% of the speakers will be from 20 countries, including the main avocado exporters and producers in the world.

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Technology: one more ally

In a hyperconnected world, a great event and international guests are not enough. Technology has allowed peer connectivity, reciprocity, and dissemination of information. Thus the WAC bets on this connectivity.

Agrilink decided to develop a mobile application in which the 3400 attendees could connect from weeks before the start of the congress. Those who use the platform could contact any of the other users, schedule appointments to create new projects, or simply meet and make themselves known. The connection will be the transversal commitment of the entire event and one of the components that will make congress a unique event in its sector.

A jump in the economy

"We cannot certainly project what will happen in the wake of the congress, but what we do know is that it will make an unimaginable leap for Colombia as a global market," said Restrepo, whose company has grown alongside the market and the event. In the absence of comparable previous experiences, any result that may have is unimaginable for both Restrepo and Ríos.

But beyond that, avocado is a trend. Social media has been a great ally of the product, since consuming avocado is a part of the fitness life that has recently spread around the world. "Avocado is the most fashionable food of the moment, so it is not only important for the economy but for society," says Restrepo.

In terms of the event, the assistance has proved to be highly beneficial for Colombia, especially for Medellin, but also elsewhere. The logistics of 3400 new people in a city involve hotel, transportation, consumption and tourism expenses, which also adds the opportunity to present Colombia to the world and more products of the country.

Just as an example of the magnitude of economic growth implied by the event, Ríos calculated around 70,000 nights in lodging and an expense per person (in general consumption) of 580,000 and 650,000 Colombian pesos per night (between 160 and 190 USD). Not including, in addition, that the avotours are made by different regions of the country, and that many attendees will take extra days to visit tourist cities such as Cartagena.

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