Cinco de Mayo won’t see many avocado bargains

04/01/2011 03:55:16 PM
Andy Nelson

Avocado promotions for Cinco de Mayo could be scaled back significantly because of low supplies, grower-shippers say.

“Supplies are going to be as tight as we’ve seen in a long time,” said Rob Wedin, vice president of sales and marketing for Calavo Growers Inc., Santa Paula, Calif.

The Chilean season has ended, Mexico is about 75% done and the California crop is less than half the size it was in 2010, Wedin said. After huge yields last year, California’s trees are in recovery mode in 2011, he said.

“Mexico has more than last year, but there’s no way they can make up the difference,” Wedin said. “We visualize that we’ll be able to keep our customers supplied, but we won’t be in a position to do big promotions for Cinco.”

Pamela Riemenschneider

“There won’t be the big ads going,” said Bob Lucy, co-owner of Del Rey Avocado Inc., Fallbrook, Calif. “There won’t be the 10-for-this, 10-for-that. When prices are in the high $40s, it’s difficult.”

Prices were very high at the end of March, and they will likely go up in April as Cinco de Mayo approaches, Wedin said.

On March 30, the U.S. Department of Agriculture $47.25-49.25 for two-layer cartons of Mexican avocados 48s, up from $24.25-27.25 last year at the same time.

Instead of promoting at 69 or 79 cents, ad prices could be closer to $1.49, Lucy said. Nevertheless, he was confident there would be adequate supplies from Mexico and California for retailers to promote on at least some basis.

Scarring problems on Mexican avocados in late March meant that as much as 35% of fruit wasn’t making No. 1 grade, three times more than normal, Wedin said.

Foodservice was gobbling up the No. 2 grade fruit, he said.

“Restaurant demand has been tremendous.”

Fruit size should be larger than last year because of the lighter yields, Wedin said. Lucy said the quality of avocados shipping for Cinco de Mayo should be excellent.

Limes

Supplies of high-quality Mexican limes should be abundant for Cinco de Mayo, but there is one potential catch, said Steve Miller, tropicals product manager for Los Angeles-based Westlake Produce Co.

To meet ad deadlines, peak shipments would likely have to leave Veracruz, Mexico, April 21-23, Miller said. But Easter falls on April 24 this year, meaning that many workers will be on vacation.

“It may be a little unique this year, but we can get it done,” he said.


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