Heavy rains in Mexico have delayed avocado shipments, but October should bring big increases in volume.
Heavy mid-September rains were delaying shipments from Mexico’s Michoacan growing area, strengthening markets, given scant supplies from other growing regions, said Bob Lucy, partner in Fallbrook, Calif.-based Del Rey Avocado Inc.
“The past two weeks it’s been real tight, particularly last week,” he said Sept. 23.
On Sept. 24, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $44.25-45.25 for two-layer cartons of hass 48s from California, up from $26.25-27.25 last year at the same time.
But the rains, while delaying shipments, are not expected to significantly affect volumes or quality, Lucy said. And once pickers can get into groves, the deal should ramp up quickly, he said.
The storms in Mexico knocked out bridges and other infrastructure, but Lucy hasn’t heard of any major infrastructure damage that would affect avocado exports.
Mexican volumes should start to ramp up significantly the week of Sept. 30, said Rob Wedin, vice president of sales and marketing with Santa Paula, Calif.-based Calavo Growers Inc.
In the short term, there will likely be some scarring on fruit from Mexico, Wedin said. But in the long term, all that extra moisture should mean good quality and big sizes.
And the rains should help both Californian and Mexican growers enjoy strong markets, he said.
“In some ways, the timing is great. They don’t have to compete with each other too much.”
Growers on California’s northern coast who were still shipping in late September will appreciate that, after sluggish markets in several recent years, Wedin said.
“It’s an opportunity for them to make some profits and keep those groves going.”
Markets, which were “abnormally high” in the second half of September, will eventually weaken, but it will take awhile, particularly since it could be the week of Oct. 7 before Mexico begins to return to normal, said Ken Vida, salesman for Fullerton, Calif.-based Interfresh Inc.
“California’s the only option right now,” Vida said Sept. 24. “Historically, it should be Mexico, but it’s not happening.”
Even when Mexican volumes do ramp up, the market could stay strong.
“There’s a great market opportunity now if they control their production,” Vida said.
The 2013 California season was rapidly winding down in late September for Del Rey, Lucy said.
Southern production was more or less finished, and northern volumes were declining, Lucy said Sept. 23. Some growers would continue to ship out of the San Luis Obispo area into late October.
“The numbers will drop quite a bit in the next three to four weeks,” he said.
Del Rey received its last Peruvian shipments of the season the week of Sept. 16, Lucy said. And Chilean product was very limited, with most pre-sold and very little available on the open market in late September.