Mexico’s fall avocado season gets a late-summer introduction, as flora loca — or “off-bloom” — fruit product gets underway.
Flora loca, which often grow in mountainous areas of Mexico, comprises a relatively small part of the Mexico deal, but it plays a key role in setting up fall shipments, said David Fausset, salesman/category manager with Oxnard, Calif.-based Mission Produce Inc.
“Flora loca is very important to help summer demand, especially in a year like this when California avocados are in a lighter crop year,” Fausset said.
With year-over-year demand increasing, it’s important to have enough fruit from each producing country to handle the demand, and flora loca plays its part in doing that, Fausset said.
As summer transitions to fall, and deals from California and Peru start to slow, flora loca is a good step toward the Mexican season, said Dana Thomas, president of Riverside, Calif.-based Index Fresh Inc.
“As we finish up July and August, customers will be using flora loca in a big way,” he said.
Quality is not an issue with flora loca, because all customers put the same high standards on all fruit, Thomas said.
“One of the things I think we’ve seen over the years is quality has become more and more important, almost a baseline foundation,” he said.
Flora loca isn’t a big-volume item, with annual volume generally in the range of 140 million to 190 million pounds, but it serves an essential purpose, said Maggie Bezart-Hall, vice president of retail with Irving, Texas-based Avocados From Mexico.
“It’s a very short window because our next bloom will start in September,” she said.
While flora loca quality meets baseline standards, customers have to treat it carefully, said Bob Lucy, partner with Fallbrook, Calif.-based grower-shipper Del Rey Avocado Co. Inc.
“We have to be very clear with our customers, because it’s a different breed of cat, and we do have to educate our customers how to handle it,” he said.
Foodservice is a good customer for flora loca, since the fruit often is smaller, Lucy noted.
“We have to be very careful to mostly target foodservice with it,” he said. “We’ll precondition it and it’s ready to go.”