Avocado grower-shippers expect strong demand and promotable supplies as summer nears, but California fruit is smaller than some would like.
Through July 4, about 30 million pounds of avocados should ship to U.S. destinations every week, making this one of the biggest summers ever for volumes from all regions, said Ross Wileman, vice president of sales and marketing for Mission Produce Inc., Oxnard, Calif.
“We’re moving a lot of fruit,” he said June 4.
After July 4, weekly volumes will likely come down slightly, Wileman said.
Mexico was on the downside at the beginning of June, with California volumes surging toward their peak, Wileman said. Peruvian volumes also were ramping up, with weekly volumes expected to peak at about 5 million pounds.
California volumes will likely reach about 390 million pounds this year, what Wileman characterized as a “middle-sized” crop.
Weekly volumes will likely approach 31 million pounds in June, then fall to 30 million pounds in July, said Emiliano Escobedo, executive director of the Irvine, Calif.-based Hass Avocado Board.
“It’s great news for the industry that we’re able to move this volume through the system,” he said.
Bob Lucy, partner in Del Rey Avocado Co. Inc., Fallbrook, Calif., said California volumes could exceed earlier estimates and approach 415 million pounds.
Lucy reported strong demand as of June 4, and he expected that trend to continue with robust retail promotions scheduled for June and the 4th of July.
The only wrinkle in the California deal thus far has been sizing, thanks in large part to water access issues, particularly in the San Diego area, Lucy said.
“Our biggest problem is there are too many 60s and 70s,” he said. “Fruit is a good half-size to a size smaller.”
Peruvian fruit, which tends to be bigger, could act as a nice complement to the smaller-sized California fruit this summer, Escobedo said.
Prices for 48s the first week of June were respectable, Lucy said, but 60s were lower, and 70s were considerably cheaper yet.
“There’s a $10 gap between 60s and 70s, which is very unusual,” he said.
On June 5, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $34.25-35.25 for two-layer cartons of California avocados, down from $48.25-49.25 last year at the same time.
Early June prices will likely remain fairly stable heading into summer, Wileman said.
Peruvian fruit will likely be available in the U.S. from June 15 to about Sept. 15, Lucy said. Most of it will stay on the East Coast, but if California continues to struggle with size, some larger Peruvian product could come west, he said.
While the Mexican deal was tapering off as summer nears, there will likely be considerable Mexican volumes in June, Lucy said.