U.S. importers are divided on the effect it’s had on markets — though timing, not the overall volume, could be the culprit in sluggish summer markets.
On July 3, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $27.25-29.25 for cartons of avocados 48s from Mexico, down from $54.25-55.25 last year at the same time. California 48s were $31.25-32.25, down from $54.25.
About 782 million pounds of Mexican avocados were shipped to the U.S. in the season, which ended June 30, 26% more than the 620 million pounds in 2010-11, said Mairim Martinez, a spokeswoman for APEAM, the organization representing avocado exporters from Michoacan.
Looking ahead to next season, the group expects another record, Martinez said. An estimated 826 million pounds will come to the U.S. in 2012-13, 6% more than in 2011-12.
Henry Avocado Corp., Escondido, Calif., had no trouble moving all that Mexican fruit this season, said Phil Henry, president.
“Movement has been good and demand has been good,” he said July 5. “They’ve done a really good job on a weekly basis of matching shipments with demand.”
Mexican volumes declined sharply this spring, just in time for California to take over the lion’s share of the deal, Henry said.
But not all importers have been happy with late-season Mexican volumes. By late June, Bob Lucy, partner in Del Rey Avocado Co. Inc., Fallbrook, Calif., expected Mexico to be shipping 5 or 6 million pounds per week to the U.S. Instead, about 12.2 million pounds were shipped the week of June 25, and big volumes also were expected the week of July 2.
“There’s way too much Mexican fruit still hanging on,” Lucy said July 5. “Last week about 36 mllion pounds shipped (from all growing areas), which is about 6 million too much. It’s been a real struggle.”
That struggle could continue well into July, said Ron Araiza, director of sales for Oxnard, Calif.-based Mission Produce Inc.
“This is the first year I can remember the old (Mexican) crop going this late into the new season,” Araiza said July 5. “The result is weaker prices on large fruit for this time of year.”
Araiza said the problem was not so much the overall volume total for 2011-12 as the timing of arrivals from Mexico.
“There were times in March and April where the industry could have absorbed a little more,” he said.
Lucy agreed. If Mexican growers could redo the 2011-12 season, he guesses they would have shipped more last winter and early spring.
“They’re selling for $10 a box less than they were three months ago,” he said.