That’s up about $10 on size 48s and 60s from what Mexican fruit commanded through much of February.
“Mexican growers felt they were under-pricing the market,” said Bob Lucy, partner in Fallbrook, Calif.-based Del Rey Avocado Co. Inc.
“They could still harvest about 30 million pounds a week and they were just leaving money on the table. I didn’t think it was undervalued by $10. But in November to January, maybe it should have been $3 or $4 higher.”
Harvesting came to a temporary halt March 18 for Benito Juarez Day in Mexico. Partial data for the previous week confirms that 30 million-pound pace, said Rob Wedin, vice president of sales and marketing for Santa Paula, Calif.-based Calavo Growers.
It’s a lot of fruit, but less than winter production.
“It’s maybe 10% over forecast instead of 30% like they were shipping,” Wedin said.
“Demand is continuing, inventories have gone down and prices up.”
Shipping prices on Mexican hass avocados ran mostly $30.25 for size 48s and $29.25 for size 60s on March 18, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture. Year-ago prices were nearly identical for the 48s, but $25-26 for the 60s.
Mexican production will go to June. California is starting to see significant increases in harvested volume but remains far from the peak amounts predicted from a deal expected to stretch into October.
The California Avocado Commission estimates a 515 million pound crop for the state in 2013.
Harvests there spiked to 9.4 million pounds in the second full week of March, up from 4.6 million the week before. That was good news, Wedin said, but growers still aren’t seeing the sizing they like.
“We envisioned better spread sizing, but the fruit is pretty small,” he said.
“Some of the growers who contributed to that 9.4 are backing away because they’re just not getting the pack-outs they want.”
There’s a good set on the trees, but, so far, insufficient time, temperatures and rainfall to size up, Wedin said. Even so, he added, it’s common for a big crop to fall behind and come on strong mid-season.
“(California) is developing an inventory of size 70s,” he said. “The pricing of 70s is not conducive to significant increases.”
“It’s really just getting started,” Lucy said.