The recent recession did little to disrupt the demand for organic California avocados, and grower-packers said they expect growth in the organic sector to continue to increase.
Industrywide, organic California avocados account for about 5% of the overall volume, according to California Avocado Commission figures.
“It’s a small segment of the overall demand, but clearly it’s remained strong and is expanding,” said Phil Henry, president of Henry Avocado Corp., Escondido, Calif.
The continued outlook is so positive that Henry Avocado converted some if its own groves to certified organic, a three-year process.
Fallbrook, Calif.-based Del Rey Avocado Co. views the organic sector as a very important part of its overall business, said Bob Lucy, a partner. It markets under the Del Rey Farms Organics label.
Organic Certifiers, Ventura, Calif., has certified Del Rey’s packinghouse as organic so it can accept, pack and sell certified organic fruit.
Lucy said he was surprised that sales of California organic avocados didn’t decrease during the recession.
“It’s a very loyal, committed customer,” he said.
Jan DeLyser, vice president of marketing for the Irvine-based avocado commission, said she also was surprised at how organic avocados fared.
“It’s one of those things that you’d think that with the economy, beginning back in 2008, that organic would have taken a hit,” she said. “Conventional as well as organic retailers have been in strong support in continuing with organic products because there’s a market for it.”
Overall, she said the California avocado industry has experienced a small but steady growth in organic volume and plantings.