Guava, A Rising StarBy Jan Hogewoning | Wed, 06/03/2020 - 17:01
Exotic fruits exports from Mexico keep growing exponentially, with more and more appetite in markets such as the EU. However, their biggest market is still domestic. Well-known exotic fruits include pineapple, mango and banana, but guava (Psidium guajava L., or guayaba in Spanish) is lesser known abroad. Guava originates in South America, but is grown in many countries today, including India, the world's biggest producer. The white flesh type weighs an average 150g and consists of 75 percent pulp. The fruit is considered very healthy, with every 100g containing an estimated 228mg of Vitamin C, which is up to seven times as much as an orange. Amongst other benefits, it is also said to improve male fertility. Communities in the Amazon region use seeds for medicinal purposes for diarrhea and rheumatism. The high concentration of beta carotene, Vitamin A and C as well as copper, zinc and selenium, in Guava seed oil, has raised interest in potential cosmetic application. In the Vaupés department of Colombia gel is extracted from the more colorful versions, and applied as paint on hats, baskets and other artisanal products.
According to the Agriculture and Fishery Information Service (SIAP), Mexico produced 1 out of 20 tons of guava globally in 2019. Mexicans consume on average 2.4kg a year. It is often enjoyed in agua fresca form, pressed and mixed with water. The China variety is the most popular, accounting for 40 percent of total global production. Twenty states in Mexico grow Guava, with Michoacan being the largest contributor with 174,585 tons harvested in 2018. According to La Voz de Michoacán, the state was responsible for 60 percent of national production in 2019.
In April 2020, Michoacan Governor Silvano Aureoles Conejo stated that the total value of Michoacan production increased from MX$548 million (US$25.2 million) to MX$925 million (US$42.5 million) between 2015 and 2019 due to better agricultural practices and a higher quality fruit. Michoacan production is followed by Zacatecas (68,369 tons) and Aguascalientes (49, 481 tons). These do not have the natural climate conditions suitable for guava growing, but manage to produce with the use of greenhouses and other technology. This is not always a guarantee for a good harvest, however, as a strong frost caused Aguascalientes guava growers in the municipality of Calvillo to loose 75 percent of their produce in 2017. Tierra Fértil reports that two years later, 15 percent of growers in the state were still in the process of recovering their trees from this episode.
While Michoacan is the biggest guava producer in terms of volume, Aguascalientes has the leading position in exports. The primary reason is because other states send produce to Aguascalientes for processing and export. In the period of September to January, when it is too cold to grow guavas in Aguascalientes, the state buys produce from other parts of the country. Over 50 percent of Michoacan guava harvests during this period, which is the most optimal time in the year, ends up being packaged in Aguascalientes. Packagers buy Michoacan guava at MX$10 (US$0.46) per kilo and end up commercializing it at MX$95 (US$5). This is a massive win for packagers, which suggests that Michoacan may need to invest in its own guava packagers and exporters soon. While Mexican guavas are exported to Europe, Asia and Central America, the US remains the primary destination. In 2018, guava exports to the US were valued at US$19.7 million, according to SIAP statistics.
In January 2020, La Jornada reported that guava production in Aguascalientes is helping women ‘conquer the world.’ In the municipality of Calvillo, a company called Guayabas la Soberana is staffed almost fully by women who dedicate themselves to packing and exporting this product mainly to the US. “The guava sector traditionally is dominated by men, which means we are fighting that bit of machismo that we still have in the culture, showing that women can do the same by being hard and dedicated workers,” said the plant director. To compete in international markets, the company had to find ways to increase efficiency. It decided to purchase a machine with a laser sensor and received a credit loan from the National Agricultural Financing Body for Rural, Forests and Fishery activities (FND). Currently, the company is seeking to diversify its export markets and increase the different forms in which it presents the fruit.
Did you know that the state of Morelos was known for such an abundance of guava trees, that its inhabitants used to be called Guayabos?