California growers expect to move avocados well into fall

08/15/2013 02:18:00 PM
Jim Offner

Avocados on the treeCourtesy Calavo GrowersCalifornia growers expect to move avocados well into fallWith its fifth-largest crop in history — exceeding 600 million pounds — California will have plenty of fruit well into the fall season, marketers say.

“Right now, we are mainly shipping California fruit, of course, and we expect that to continue into early September,” said Phil Henry, president of Escondido, Calif.-based Henry Avocado Corp.

Production from California’s northern growing areas has been strong in 2013, he said July 23.

Rob Wedin, vice president of sales and marketing at Santa Paula, Calif.-based Calavo Growers Inc., predicted his company would still have about 30% of its California fruit for the year to ship beyond the end of August.

That figures into a strategic marketing plan, Wedin said.

“We are focusing fairly locally, staying in the West with a lot of our sales, so we’ll continue to emphasize these western markets for California,” he said.

Large fruit was relatively hard to come by early in the season, but bigger avocados are more common toward the end of the deal, Wedin said.

“With the northern groves increasing, we’re going to see a lot more medium sizes,” Wedin said. “We’ve got quite a bit to offer the consumers and the trade yet into November.”

Mexican fruit volume generally picks up in September, but current sales trends indicate that will pose no problems for the end of the California deal, Wedin said.

“In some ways, we need good supplies to satisfy the demand that’s out there,” he said.

Wedin said avocado demand seems unprecedented.

“Inventories have been very well controlled for almost every month of the year, especially as we’ve come into the warmer weather,” he said.

Demand is expected to grow along with supplies, Wedin said.

“I think we’re making progress we haven’t seen before,” he said.


 ‘Acceptable’ prices

Prices were about $30 through much of the California deal, which marketers said was acceptable.

“If you’re selling a lot of fruit at $30, you’re happy,” said Bob Lucy, a partner in Fallbrook, Calif.-based Del Rey Avocado Co. Inc.

The California season had a rough start in March, April and even into May, but it got rolling thereafter, Lucy said.

“Since we got into June and July, things have become a lot better,” he said.

Lucy said he wouldn’t be surprised to see California producing into October, “with a good crop, coming out of Ventura, Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo counties.”

Ross Wileman, vice president of sales and marketing at Oxnard, Calif.-based Mission Produce Inc., agreed with Lucy’s assessment.

“I guess there’s some debate how long California will go, but we think there will be supplies in October,” he said.


Into November

Jan DeLyser, vice president of marketing for the Irvine-based California Avocado Commission, said the state was shipping fruit into November last year and 2013 looks to be no different.

“It’s similar, but possibly a little heavier,” she said.

There are marketing programs in place to move all the fruit, DeLyser said.

“That fall window, there’s a lot of tailgating, with football and baseball, and we think that will be a good way to support those activities,” she said.

The commission will continue with a cross-promotion with the California Beef Council and the American National Cattlewomen Inc. through the beef checkoff program to promote the pairing of California avocados and
lean beef through their biannual Beef Cook-off recipe contest. The California Beef program will includes a regional recipe booklet promoting avocados on hamburgers.

“A goal is to highlight recipes that fit with fall tailgating,” DeLyser said.

The promotion will run until the end of the season, DeLyser said.



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