Transport of avocados from Mexico to Asia has changed from air freight to refrigerated containers, thanks to Maersk Container Industry (MCI) Star Cool controlled atmosphere (CA) systems.
“Albeit in much smaller volumes than today, Mexican avocado exports to Japan really took off in the 1980s. At that time, all cargo was air-freighted,” said Ramon Paz. He is president of Sistemas Fruticolas, which has been exporting avocados by reefer containers to Japan and China since 2008.
Bulk vessels were used for just one season to carry avocados to Europe and the Far East. Compared with today’s refrigerated containerized markets, bulk vessels require additional work and logistics. For instance, failing to pre-cool all avocado loads to around the same temperature would in turn break the cold chain.
“The results were so bad that bulk vessels were never again used to carry avocados out of Mexico,” said Tufik Jamit. He knows all about how the latest Star Cool reefer containers with controlled atmosphere (Star Cool CA), have been instrumental for the increase in Mexican avocado exports. He is president of Jamit Logistica y Operativa, which conducts surveys for some of the major shipping lines and exporters in Uruapan in Mexico—also known as the avocado capital of the world.
An increasing number of shipping lines exporting avocados from Mexico are using Star Cool CA reefer containers, with no issues reported to date.
“This is pleasing news to us,” said Paz, adding that Star Cool CA has a higher reliability thanks to a system with inherently fewer operating components than other CA technologies.
That view is supported by Roberto Rodriguez, sales export manager of Mission Produce, which is based in Oxnard CA. Mission Produce is the largest avocado producer in the world with operations in several countries moving about 200 containers a week—equivalent to around 3.5 million kilograms of avocados every week.
“We have been exposed to competitive control and modified atmosphere technologies over the years as well,” said Rodriguez. “Overall, we prefer the Star Cool CA reefer containers based on historical performance and quality control.”
Ideally, the consignee requires 10 to 12 days of shelf life. For the Asian market, this can only be achieved by using a proper CA system.
“Our experience is that the Star Cool CA system provides the longest shelf life and highest reliability compared with other CA systems on the market,” said Rodriguez.
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