South African avocado growers are predicting a slight drop in exports for the 2013 season, but say fruit quality is good.

The country’s export crop this year is expected to come in at 10.5 million 4kg cartons, down from 12 million in 2012 but up significantly on 2011, when hail damage reduced exports to just 6.7 million cartons.

Sixty per cent of the 2013 crop would be Hass avocados, with greenskin varieties making up the remaining 40%, the South African Avocado Growers’ Association said. “The proportion of Hass is up slightly on last year, but there is still strong demand for greenskins in international markets, and we are seeing new planting of greenskin varieties here as well as Hass,” said SAAGA chief executive Derek Donkin.

Fruit quality was looking good thanks to favourable weather and the efforts of South African growers to ensure high-quality avocados for export customers, he added.

The first South African avocados are arriving now, with the season peaking in June and July. Last year, the SAAGA launched an ‘avocado manifesto’ in the UK that gives advice to retailers on how to boost sales.