As summer gave way to fall, Peru was finishing up its third season in the U.S. avocado market, with plans to increase its presence in coming seasons, marketers said.
“Peru will continue to grow significantly in the coming years, as the acreage planted and being planted continues to grow,” said David Fausset, salesman/category manager with Oxnard, Calif.-based Mission Produce Inc.
“They will spread their efforts to include Europe, Asia, and even close to home with Chile’s consumption continuing to rise annually,” he said.
However, the U.S. is a good marketing opportunity for Peru’s industry, he said.
According to the Irvine, Calif.-based Hass Avocado Board, Peru’s anticipated U.S.-bound avocado volume of 90 million pounds in 2014 would be a 91.5% increase over the 47 million pounds from previous year. In 2012, Peru’s entrance into the U.S. market, the country shipped about 37 million pounds of fruit.
By contrast, Mexico’s 2014 estimate of U.S. volume was about 1.1 billion pounds. California’s volume was 315 million pounds.
“I think they provide another opportunity for our customers and another option,” said Dana Thomas, president of Riverside, Calif.-based Index Fresh Inc., which is involved in the Peruvian deal.
Peru changes the dynamic of the U.S. market, Thomas said.
“Some changes it will make is allow retailers to run bigger promotions and bigger displays, and that overall increases demand — not only short-term demand, but also introducing more consumers and building demand long-term,” Thomas said.
Peru does present some challenges, Thomas said.
For one thing, he said, fruit tends to be bigger.
“It creates a challenge for all of us to market the big-size fruit, and there’s a lot of people working on that challenge to get the price points right.”
There’s also a positive side to that scenario, Thomas said.
“We don’t get the large size fruit in large quantities from California and Mexico and Chile that we do from Peru, so it’s both a challenge and opportunity,” Thomas said.
Peru is taking advantage of its opportunity in the U.S. market, but it also is still trying to find its niche in the market, said Emiliano Escobedo, executive director of the Hass Avocado Board.
“I think they’re learning where they fit in and the differences between the European and U.S. markets,” Escobedo said.
Organics may help Peru find that niche, said Mark Sandell, category director with San Francisco-based Purity Organic Produce and Pacific Organic Produce.
“It’s a pretty good opportunity; they’re trying to open up markets in Asia, as well,” he said.
Peru got a bit of help in 2014 because of a “shorter crop” in California, Escobedo said.
“They saw an opportunity this year to have greater participation in the U.S. market,” Escobedo said.
Peru’s biggest export market remains Europe, Escobedo said.
“This year, they kind of reacted, they expected (better) market conditions in the United States, so that’s why you’re seeing more fruit from them in the U.S.,” he said.
It will take some time for Peru’s presence in the U.S. to mature, said Phil Henry, president of Escondido, Calif.-based Henry Avocado Corp.
“Peru, of course, harvests during the spring and summer, so it provides more product into the market during those periods of time, so it’s going to take a significant amount of advertising and promotions to move the additional quantity of fruit,” Henry said.