Record avocado shipments expected

10/05/2012 09:18:00 AM
Andy Nelson

Andy Nelson, Markets EditorAndy Nelson, Markets EditorThe numbers are in (preliminary numbers, anyway), and they’re pretty impressive, one in particular.

That would be 30, as in 30%, as in 30% more avocados are expected to ship in the U.S. in calendar year 2012 than in 2011.

Through Sept. 29, about 6 billion pounds of avocados had shipped in the U.S. year-to-date, up from 4.8 billion pounds last year at the same time.

The big jump is largely due to a record-breaking 2011-12 Mexican crop. But when it wound down in midsummer, marketers still found themselves having to put the promotional pedal down.

A big California crop was still pumping out big volumes well into September, and Mexico’s flora loca, or off-bloom, crop was the biggest some importers said they’ve seen in years.

Add to that Peru’s first full season in the deal, and shipments from Chile arriving already in September, and shippers told me they were still sweating to find demand to meet all that product, even as summer gave way to fall.

This was all before Mexico even started getting serious with its main 2012-13 crop, also expected to be a huge, likely record-setting one.

Shippers like Rob Wedin of Santa Paula, Calif.-based Calavo Growers said that while it was hard work finding homes for some fruit, it’s a job they’re happy to have — or, at the least, they’ll be happy when all that hard work pays off down the road.

“It’s good news for the future,” Wedin said of ever increasing volumes.

“You can’t build demand if you don’t have the volumes to build it with.”

Fortunately, Wedin and others told me, shippers aren’t alone when it comes to building that demand.

The California Avocado Commission, Mexico’s exporters (APEAM) and other organizations have cranked up their fall marketing machines significantly.

“There are way, way more advertisements and promotions planned,” he said.

“They’ve really stepped up.”

It’s interesting to hear shippers talk about the need to build demand.

Take a look at the last decade, in which avocado demand has gone through the roof, with double-digit growth every year and new growing regions added to the mix with no loss of movement.

How much higher can demand go?

From what I’ve heard around the figurative water cooler, I think a lot of consumers are like me.

If prices got just a bit lower on a regular basis, we’d buy avocados every single time we go to the store.

And a lot of times we’d buy two instead of one.

If the industry can get to that tipping point, who knows how high consumption can go.

anelson@thepacker.com

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