“As we get more into summer we’ll have to have weeks when we’re up to 15 million or 20 million pounds.”
Winter prices were lower than the industry anticipated, Wedin said, but that fed demand.
“Demand has really come forward,” he said. “That’s increased the need for product and when growers pick slightly less in both California and Mexico, it drives prices up quickly.”
Two-layer cartons of hass avocados from California shipped for $31.25-32.25 on size 48s and $30.25 on 60s March 18, according to the USDA. Year-ago prices were about $32 and $30, respectively.
Quality is good on Mexico and California fruit, Lucy said.
“California will dominate the West and Mexico the rest of the country for the next two and a half months,” he said March 18.
“The big problem has been lack of rain in California,” he said. “Rain really helps it size up. We’re hoping for a few more storms in April and May.”
Easter added to demand for avocados, Lucy said, but the fruit doesn’t get quite the same bump from that holiday as strawberries. The next big one will be Cinco de Mayo.
Unlike last year, Chilean imports ended well before mid-March. Chile sharply cut exports to the U.S. after the Association of Michoacan State Avocado Producers and Packers (APEAM) estimated the 2012-2013 crop at 986 million pounds, up from 782 million the year before.