Avocados likely smaller, but no supply worries

01/04/2008 12:00:00 AM
Andy Nelson

(Jan. 4) Smaller volumes from Chile shouldn’t stop U.S. retailers from heavily promoting avocados for Super Bowl XLII, grower-shippers and importers said.

This year’s game, one of the top two annual marketing events for the avocado industry — Cinco de Mayo is the other — is set for Feb. 3 in Glendale, Ariz.

Phil Henry, president of Henry Avocado Corp., Escondido, Calif., said the Southwestern setting could mean especially strong Super Bowl pull for avocados. Given that the market leading up to the game will be supplied by all three major producing areas — Chile, Mexico and California — Henry expected ample supplies of promotable fruit.

“We should have promotable supplies in a variety of sizes,” he said. “We’re getting regular arrivals from Chile every week, Mexico is shipping every day, and California is starting. I don’t anticipate any trouble meeting demand.”

Aggressive marketing by the Irvine-based California Avocado Commission and Hass Avocado Board and by growers’ associations in Chile and Mexico should guarantee another successful Super Bowl marketing season, said Avi Crane, president and chief executive officer of Prime Produce International LLC, Orange, Calif.

“The industry promotion organizations are running on all cylinders, working hard to help retailers take advantage of the game,” he said. “Super Bowl demand is getting bigger and bigger. It’s becoming part of the culture of the game.”

On Jan. 2, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $30.25-32.25 for two-layer cartons of hass 36s from Mexico, up from $20.25-21.25 last year at the same time.

While Chilean supplies are down after last year’s freeze, there will be enough Chilean product in the pipeline, supplemented by Mexican fruit and early-season California avocados, to meet demand, Crane predicted.

While volumes should be adequate to meet ever-increasing demand, sizing could be on the small side, said Rob Wedin, vice president of sales and marketing at Calavo Growers Inc., Santa Paula, Calif.

Dry weather has kept California fruit from sizing, Wedin said. Mexican and Chilean product expected for Super Bowl pull also should be on the small side, he predicted.

Qualitywise, the Chilean quality is as good as Wedin has seen in several years, he said. Fruit from Mexico was starting to look and taste better after a period of heavy rain had compromised quality, he said.



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