Avocados from Peru gaining ground - The Packer

Avocados from Peru gaining ground

07/08/2013 09:22:00 AM
Melissa Shipman

The Peruvian avocado deal should see a stronger market in the U.S. this year, suppliers say.

Supplies from Mexico are expected to be lower this year.

“It appears that Mexico’s production is dropping off much quicker than anticipated, so rather than going head to head with them like last year, there is a good window opening up,” said Eric Crawford, president of Fresh Results LLC, Sunrise, Fla.

Typically, California avocados would be able to fill the void left by Mexico, but this year sizing of its fruit is small.

“A lot of California fruit is smaller this year, and it’s staying more on the West Coast,” Crawford said.

Jose Antonio Gomez, chief commercial officer of Camposol, Lima, Peru, says Peru’s younger crop means larger fruit to help fill the void from California.

“Younger trees tend to yield bigger fruit, and a lot of plantations in Peru are only 4- or 5-year-old trees,” he said.

Others agree.

“Mexico is winding down, and there’s a sizing issue in California. Most of the fruit is smaller than normal standards due to weather conditions,” said Ross Wileman, vice president of sales and marketing at Mission Produce Inc., Oxnard, Calif.

These market conditions have created an opportunity for Peru avocados this year.

“I think we’ll see Peru fill a void through the summer months. We’re starting to get arrivals on the East and West Coast now, and these will go to probably the middle of September,” Wileman said.

Gomez says these market conditions will be especially helpful to Peruvian growers who are looking to get their fruit into the U.S.

Peruvian avocados have only been in the U.S. for a couple of years, and last year was a difficult year for importers.

“When supplies are plenty, customers don’t want to change their normal sources. This will help open the market up to Peru,” Gomez said.

In addition, Peruvian fruit is at its peak during the summer, when American consumption is at its highest.

“Peru is the only foreign origin that is at its peak in the summer,” said Xavier Equihua of the Peruvian Avocado Commission.

Equihua says Mexico has some fruit, but production isn’t really at its high point.

Chile is also at a low point in its season during the summer months.

“Peru and California are the only origins with Hass avocados that are at their peak during the summer,” he said.

European market

The situation in Europe is making the U.S. market more attractive to Peruvian growers this year as well, since the country has shipped a large majority of its product there in previous years.

“The European market is complicated right now, with prices around 5 euros for a 4-kilo box,” Gomez said. That’s significantly lower than typical, a trend Gomez expects will continue.

“The U.S. is a better market right now,” he said.

Still, Gomez expects to ship about 50% of his crop to Europe, with the other half going to the U.S. This is up from an early estimate of just 15% of the Peruvian crop going to the U.S.

In the future

Suppliers are hopeful these favorable market conditions will continue in future years, but even if California and Mexico’s crops are back to normal next year, it should still be easier for Peruvian fruit to find a home in the U.S.

“I think everyone’s expectation for next year is that, at the very least, the quality of the fruit will be considered acceptable because when we started this season, that was in question,” Crawford said.

By the end of the season, he thinks Peru will have had a chance to prove its avocados are high quality, which will allow them to better compete with Mexican fruit.

“Next year, we may have to compete with Mexico, but Peru is typically a little more aggressively priced, so there’s a window the Peruvian fruit is starting to fit into,” Crawford said.

Wileman thinks the future will bring a larger number of Peruvian avocados to the U.S.

“There are new plantings going on, so I would think the volume will increase in years ahead,” he said.

However, nothing is certain.

“If the market gets active in Europe, some could go there,” Wileman said.



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