However, marketers say they see value in Peru’s summer presence in the U.S., as they prepare for the autumn sales season.
“It’s very helpful when there aren’t as many supplies out of California,” said Robert Schueller, director of public relations for Vernon, Calif.-based World Variety Produce, which focuses on organic avocados and markets under the Melissa’s brand.
Peru is wrapping up only its second full season in the U.S., and the country’s fruit has all the quality standards receivers in the U.S. expect, said retail consultant Dick Spezzano, owner of Spezzano Consulting Service, Monrovia, Calif.
“My experience tells me you give an exporting country a year or two and they get to export standards,” he said.
Peru will do well in the U.S., especially with demand for fruit growing, Spezzano said.
“They’ll be fine and will try to find a slot where they’ll export into the U.S. heavily,” he said.
That shouldn’t be a problem, since Peru has been shipping avocados to Europe for years, said Phil Henry, president of Escondido, Calif.-based Henry Avocado Corp.
“I think their volume is going to grow in future years, so they will be coming in with more volume, principally to the East Coast,” Henry said.
Targeting East Coast markets makes sense for Peru, since it competes more or less head-to-head with California, Henry said.
“When you get into the summer months, it’s a pretty good time, when Mexico has the least amount of volume, so Peru will be coming in with more volume on the East Coast,” he said.
Peru has had no quality issues, said Bob Lucy, a partner in Fallbrook, Calif.-based Del Rey Avocado Co. Inc.
“Peruvian fruit is doing very well,” he said.
Peru typically tips toward larger fruit — generally in the 32-36 range — and that sometimes can present hurdles, Lucy said.
“Finding a home for fruit of that size is challenging for all of us marketers,” he said.
This year, circumstances eased the challenges of larger fruit, said Ross Wileman, vice president of sales and marketing for Oxnard, Calif.-based Mission Produce Inc.
“Until a month ago, California was producing mostly small fruit. Mexico wound down in the small volumes over the last three weeks, so Peru’s entry in the market was timed perfectly this year and the fruit has been very well accepted, more so because it was needed,” Wileman said.
Peru’s first two years probably brought mixed results, but there were no problems this year, Lucy said.
“The first year, they got such a late start and it was just a trial run, and last year, I think, was disappointing because I think a number of people jumped the gun too early and brought in fruit weeks too early,” he said.
None of that happened this year, Lucy said.
“This year, everything seems to be fine, and it seems to be getting much better acceptance than it did last year,” he said.