As a grower and packer of Florida avocados, it was a “no-brainer” for Miami-based J&C Tropicals to enter the hass avocado deal.
The continued growth of the hass category also offered new opportunities, said Allan Sanchez, hass avocado category manager.
This will be the first year that the Miami-based grower-packer has handled Chilean hass, but Sanchez said he’s optimistic.
“We believe we have a competitive window niche here with product coming straight to here,” he said.
“It’s good fruit at a good price, and I see success as long as the oil content remains and there’s no adverse weather phenomenon.”
The bumpy-skinned hass and the Florida smooth green-skinned fruit attract different but complementary consumers, he said.
Florida avocados have a regional appeal and are considered more of a specialty niche item.
The hass, on the other hand, has evolved over the years from a specialty and ethnic fruit to something that even fast-food restaurants, such as Burger King and Subway, have begun using and promoting.
The variety also is used in many dishes, such as sushi, and has moved into commercial channels.
“It’s more mainstream and more of a mainstream avocado,” he said of hass. “People are seeing it more and more on TV They realize it’s a healthy product.
“Since (we) do a niche Florida avocado here, it was a no-brainer to get into hass.”
J&C Tropicals started with last season’s Mexican hass deal, worked through Peru and now is entering its first Chilean season and the beginning of its second Mexican deal.
Although Chile doesn’t export the volumes that Mexico does or California produces, Sanchez said Chilean fruit helps satisfy markets as Peru and California wind down and Mexico hasn’t yet hit its stride.
“People tend to be more open to take on a Chilean avocado at this time of year, so it’s going to be Chile and Mexico,” he said. “It’s a good time for Chilean avocados to be coming in. It’s a good fit.”
During the peak of the Chilean season, hass avocados will run up to 24% oil, cut cleanly and provide a nice, creamy eating experience for consumers, he said.
Although many importers bring in Chilean fruit through West Coast ports for West Coast markets, Sanchez said J&C Tropicals brings it through the port of Miami.
It can then easily be transported north to East Coast markets, providing retailers with fruit that should be competitive with Mexican product coming through Texas border ports, Sanchez said.
“We’re already pulling from Miami, like asparagus imports coming from Peru,” he said.
“There are already logistics lanes that are here — week-in and week-out — to combine a load out of Miami.”