Ken Love, Executive Director, Japan Avocado Commission
Aloha from Hawaii
I often wonder what makes avocado so special. As a child, I greatly disliked the fruit. I could not imagine how anyone could eat it. In those days as now, fruit grown in far away places were picked to early and ripened artificially with ethylene gas. Avocado grown in California, Mexico and Central America was picked and trucked to Mexican restaurants in Chicago where I grew up. I don’t recall grocery stores sold many avocados in those days. As time changed and shipping became somewhat more efficient, the practice of picking early and shipping has not changed.
My love of avocados happened the first time I came to Hawaii for a visit in early 1980s when a friend picked a fruit off the ground, opened it and was surprised that for a seedling it was very good. I refused his offer to try it a few times but as he was insistent I gave in a tried it. It was so incredibly good that I didn’t believe it was an avocado and thought it to be some type of cherimoya. In those almost 40 years, I learned as much as I could about the fruit and not a day goes by where my life is not touched in some way by avocados.
The difference between harvesting almost ripe avocados and almost mature avocados can be like night and day. The oils and sugars in mature fruit are what gives it taste, texture and nutrition. When these new generations of consumers taste that difference, between something picked early, artificially ripened and shipped 8000 miles or something harvested at the right time and shipped only 100 miles, the demand for local avocados is going to skyrocket. Once Japans population tastes the difference between imports and locally produced avocados from selected cultivars from Hawaii, growers are going to be very busy.