Avocados [German version]

Table of contents

Product information
  Container transport
  Cargo securing

Risk factors and loss prevention:
Temperature Odor
Humidity/Moisture Contamination
Ventilation Mechanical influences
Biotic activity Toxicity / Hazards to health
Gases Shrinkage/Shortage
Self-heating / Spontaneous combustion Insect infestation / Diseases

Product information

Product name

German Avocados, Alligatorbirnen
English Avocado pears, Alligator pears
French Avocat
Spanish Aguacate
Scientific Persea americana
CN/HS number * 0804 40 ff.

(* EU Combined Nomenclature/Harmonized System)

Product description

Avocados are stone fruits. They belong to the laurel family (Lauraceae) and are cultivated in tropical countries. They grow on 8 – 10 m high trees with evergreen, laurel-like leaves. Depending on the variety, the elongated, pear-shaped fruits have a thin, thick, smooth or rough skin, which may be green or brownish-red to black and encloses the whitish to green flesh. Their flavor is sweetish to nutty. The light-brown stone is as large as a walnut. It constitutes approx. 20% of the total fruit and is inedible.

Avocados have a relatively high nutritional value. Of particular note is the high vitamin content (C, B1 and B2) and carotene content (provitamin A).

The fruits weigh approx. 400 g and reach a size of approximately 10 cm.

Oil content: the fruit flesh contains 15 – 30% oil, „avocado oil“, which is similar to olive oil and lends the pulp its buttery consistency.

Avocados do not become soft and ripe enough to eat on the tree, so they are picked at the preclimacteric stage while firm.

Avocados picked too early do not ripen properly and become wrinkly. During ripening, the water content falls and the fat content rises. The best criterion for judging ripeness is the ratio of fat content to dry solids, for example the Californian pulp value amounts to 8% fat and 17% dry solids [5].

The following varieties make up the majority of exports:


Quality / Duration of storage

The quality of the fruits is determined by grading, i.e. they should exhibit a uniform size, color and ripeness. If the fruits are very ripe, the risk of spoilage is too great, which restricts their marketability.

Designation Temperature Rel. humidity Max. duration of storage Source
  10°C 90% 14 – 28 days [1]
Firm fruits 8 – 12°C 90% 28 days [5]
Ripe fruits 5 – 8°C 90% 7 – 14 days [5]

Where controlled atmosphere transport is used, transport and storage duration may be extended to 6 weeks [5]. The following parameters apply in such a case [16]:

Temperature Rel. humidity O2 CO2 Suitability for controlled atmosphere
3.3 – 4.4°C (avocados from California)

7.2 – 12.8°C (avocados from the Tropics)
85 – 90% 2 – 5% 3 – 10% good

Intended use

Avocados are mainly intended for fresh consumption. They are used for the production of salads, sauces and spreads, for example.


(Click on the individual Figures to enlarge them.)

Photo, avocado

Figure 1
Photo, avocado

Figure 2
Photo, avocado

Figure 3

Countries of origin

This Table shows only a selection of the most important countries of origin and should not be thought of as exhaustive.

Europe Spain, Italy
Africa South Africa, Cameroon, Kenya
Asia Israel
America Florida, California, West Indies, Brazil, Mexico, Chile
Australia Australia

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Avocados are packaged in single layers in trays, fruit crates, crates or cartons, sometimes with padding, and palletized.

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Symbol, general cargo

General cargo


Means of transport

Ship, truck, railroad, aircraft

Container transport

Refrigerated container with fresh air supply or  controlled atmosphere

Cargo handling

Avocados are highly pressure- and impact-sensitive and appropriate care must therefore be taken during cargo handling. The cold chain must at all costs be maintained, since the cargo will otherwise spoil rapidly.

In damp weather (rain, snow), the cargo must be protected from moisture, as there is otherwise a risk of premature spoilage.

Stowage factor

3.12 m3/t (fruit crates with padded inserts on pallets) [1]
2.50 m3/t (in cartons) [11]
2.38 m3/t (in trays) [11]

The stowage factor depends very much on weight categories and the packaging units used.

Stowage space requirements

Cool, dry, well ventilated


Fiber rope, thin fiber nets, wooden dunnage

Cargo securing

Because of its considerable impact- and pressure-sensitivity, packages of this cargo must be secured in such a way that they are prevented from damaging each other. Spaces between packages or pallets must be filled, to prevent slippage or tipping. By selecting the correct packaging size or cargo unit (area module or area module multiple), holds can be tightly loaded (without spaces).

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Risk factors and loss prevention

RF Temperature

Avocados require particular temperature, humidity/moisture and ventilation conditions (SC VII) (storage climate conditions).

A written cooling order must be obtained from the consignor before loading is begun. This order must always be complied with during the entire transport chain.

The following Table merely constitutes an estimate of appropriate temperature ranges. Temperatures may deviate from these values, depending on the particular transport conditions.

Designation Temperature range Source
Travel temperature    
Avocados, unripe 8 – 12°C [6]
7.2 – 12.8°C [1]
8 – 12°C [5]
Avocados, ripe 5 – 7°C [5]
5 – 7°C [6]
Avocados from the West Indies not < 12°C [5]
not < 12°C [6]

Depending on the variety, the chilling damage temperature is 5 – 12°C, while for unripe fruits it is 8 – 12°C [17].

In the event of chilling damage, the flesh of the fruit goes brown and the skin exhibits sunken spots while also going brown. The flesh subsequently becomes soft and breaks down around the stone.

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RF Humidity/Moisture

Avocados require particular temperature, humidity/moisture and ventilation conditions (SC VII) (storage climate conditions).

Designation Humidity/water content Source
Relative humidity 90% [1]
90% [3]
Water content 60 – 75% [1]
Maximum equilibrium moisture content 85% [1]

Of all types of fruit, avocados have the lowest water content.

Avocados have to be protected from all forms of moisture (seawater, rain and condensation water), to prevent mold and rot and fruit spoilage.

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RF Ventilation

Avocados require particular temperature, humidity/moisture and ventilation conditions (SC VII) (storage climate conditions).

Recommended ventilation conditions: circulating air, 60 – 80 circulations/hour with continuous supply of fresh air, to prevent excessive concentrations of CO2, ethylene and other gases.

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RF Biotic activity

Avocados display 2nd order biotic activity.

They are living organs in which respiration processes predominate, because their supply of new nutrients has been cut off by separation from the parent plant.

Care of the cargo during the voyage must be aimed at controlling respiration processes (release of CO2, water vapor, ethylene and heat) in such a way that the cargo is at the desired stage of ripeness on reaching its destination. Inadequate ventilation may result in fermentation and rotting of the cargo as a result of increased CO2 levels and inadequate supply of atmospheric oxygen (see Ventilation).

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RF Gases

CO2 evolution During storage, avocados evolve CO2 by respiration processes. 
Upper limit of permissible CO2 content 3 – 10 vol.%
Ethylene evolution  
Active behavior Avocados produce large quantities of ethylene, their ethylene production rate being 10 – 100 µl/kg*h [16].
Passive behavior The sensitivity of avocados to ethylene may be classified as high [16]. They must not therefore be stored together with ethylene-producing goods (allelopathy).

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RF Self-heating / Spontaneous combustion

No risk.

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RF Odor

Active behavior Avocados have a very slight, pleasant odor and do not therefore affect other products.
Passive behavior The cargo is highly odor-sensitive and must therefore not be stored together with odor-emitting products.

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RF Contamination

Active behavior Avocados do not cause contamination.
Passive behavior The cargo is sensitive to dirt, fats and oils. The holds or containers must accordingly be clean and in a thoroughly hygienic condition before loading.

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RF Mechanical influences

Avocados must be handled with extreme care. They are highly sensitive to impact and undergo very rapid spoilage if injured.

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RF Toxicity / Hazards to health

If ventilation has been inadequate (frost) or has failed owing to a defect, life-threatening CO2 concentrations or O2 shortages may arise. Therefore, before anybody enters the hold, it must be ventilated and a gas measurement carried out. A CO2 concentration of 3 – 10 vol.% is permissible for avocados. However, the TLV is 0.49 vol.%.

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RF Shrinkage/Shortage

Weight loss due to the release of water vapor does not generally occur.

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RF Insect infestation / Diseases

In general, avocados hardly ever fall victim to disease and insect infestation. However, in damp countries of origin they do sometimes suffer from anthracnose, which is caused by the mold Colletotrichum gloeosporioides.

Its symptoms are black spots on the skin and soft and rotting flesh.

The quarantine regulations of the country of destination must be complied with and a phytosanitary certificate may have to be enclosed with the shipping documents. Information may be obtained from the phytosanitary authorities of the countries concerned.

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