SANTIAGO, Sept. 16 (Xinhua) -- Chilean avocado growers have found a rapidly expanding market in China as the consumers there develop an ever finer appetite for nutritional produce, industry officials have said.
"We've had very good results," Francisco Contardo, general manager of Chile's Hass Palta Committee, an organization of avocado growers, told Xinhua recently.
The committee said avocado exports to China began three years ago and have been booming. In the latest avocado season, which runs from July to April, 14,860 tons of avocados were sold to China, up from 3,970 tons in the 2015-16 season.
The climate and soil in Chile's fertile central and northern valleys are favorable for growing avocados. The green vegetable-like fruit, known as palta in Chile, has been increasingly popular in recent years in many countries as a nutritional fruit.
Avocados are fairly new to Chinese consumers, but Chile's growers have been energetically promoting their produce in China.
The Hass Palta Committee will be doing a promotional campaign of Chilean avocados in the Chinese market this year, the third year in a row.
"Chile has done a tremendous job in terms of education," said Contardo, saying that the committee and Chile's national export promotion agency ProChile have joined hands to promote the fruit.
Sales of Chilean avocados have been brisk, catapulting Chile to a position as one of the leading suppliers to the Chinese market, Andreas Pierotic, commercial adviser at Chile's embassy in Beijing, said last year.
Contardo said there is much more to be done in terms of consumer education, including demonstrating to consumers the variety of ways avocados can be used as an ingredient and how to tell when they are ripe.
"There's still a lot to learn about ... how to eat it, and what color and condition the avocado should have when you're going to eat it," he said.
Contardo traveled to China in late August on a business trip to promote Chilean avocados.
Originally from south-central Mexico, avocado trees bear a pear-shaped fruit, or berry, with a rough but thin dark-green rind. Inside, its bright-green to bright-yellow flesh surrounds a large round stone.
Chile's Agriculture Minister Antonio Walker said the country's agricultural growth hinges on being able to enter markets in Southeast Asia, China and India, where there are potentially millions of consumers.
"We have a tremendous opportunity in Asia and we already have a tradition, a history," Walker said in an interview with Xinhua.
"More than 25 years ago, we created the Chilean farm in China, which generated a certain prestige and trust between the two countries, which not every Latin American country has," Walker said.
The efforts have paid off, helping Chile win the trust of Chinese consumers and making China one of Chile's top agricultural export destinations. Today, Chile is one of the top exporters of avocados to China and the United States, competing against Mexico and Peru.
"We have made a name for ourselves in the international market," Walker said.