The U.S. is becoming a crowded market for avocados, but Chile still has a strong place in the fall/winter season, marketers say.
California’s avocado deal is still peaking but is scheduled to wind down as fall takes hold, while Peru recently completed its second full summer season in the U.S. and Mexico launched its new-crop shipments late this summer.
The timing of the Chilean deal brings its share of challenges, shippers say.
It’s always difficult, regardless of the size of Chile’s crop, said Rankin McDaniel, owner of Fallbrook, Calif.-based McDaniel Fruit Co.
“Each year presents its own challenges, because each year depends on what a country of origin has in the way of volume and how they can transition with other countries of origin either entering or leaving a marketplace,” he said. “It requires much work and very close communication with customers.
“We have to advise them on directions that they should be going in terms of what we think is the best quality avocado for the consumers that shop with our customers,” he said.
Coordinating the Chilean crop involves communications with Mexico, California and Peru, but Chile still has its own opportunity to dominate, said Adolfo Ochagavía, president of the Chilean Hass Avocado Committee.
“Chile usually supplies their big volumes when California starts to decline in their local weekly harvest and Peru declines its weekly shipments during August, so that gives us some space to allocate part of our shipments to the U.S.,” Ochagavia said.
Timing Chile with California and Mexico is a hurdle, but so is ensuring profit for Chilean growers and shippers, said Chris Varvel, sales/distribution manager with Escondido, Calif.-based Henry Avocado Corp.
“The challenge usually is getting the kind of price return to the Chilean shippers that they’re expecting,” he said.
Chile competes against a Mexican industry that continues to dominate the U.S., but working a Chilean crop in with the Mexican supplies generally isn’t a problem, said Gary Caloroso, marketing director with Escondido-based Giumarra Agricom International.
“A major difference between now and previous seasons is that consumer demand continues to dramatically increase, so we believe having a steady supply of avocados available for consumption in the United States is absolutely critical,” he said.
California’s large crop this year could provide a little extra twist, said Rob Wedin, vice president of sales and marketing with Santa Paula, Calif.-based Calavo Growers Inc.
“We’re continuing the California crop and believe we’re going to go through October, but we’re feeling a little less confident about November,” Wedin said. “Fortunately, there’s just tremendous demand for avocados in the U.S.”
That’s where Chile proves its worth, Wedin said.
“For the most part, growers are continuing to do fairly well, so you have that safety net of demand here — when you make mistakes, they are correctable,” he said.
Calavo relies more heavily on Mexico production, however, Wedin said.
A later-starting crop has been a help to Chile, said Dana Thomas, president of Index Fresh Inc., Riverside, Calif.
“Their start has been later, September/October, the last couple of years, and that’s helped with marketing conditions,” he said.