More companies are implementing ripening programs as the process becomes more sophisticated, Wedin said.
The ability to sort fruit so it ripens consistently has improved along with refrigeration equipment and cold chain management practices.
Preconditioning avocados goes back to the 1970s and early 1980s, said Dana Thomas, president of Index Fresh Inc., Bloomington, Calif.
The company has conditioning facilities in California, Denver, Chicago and Pennsylvania.
In all, Index Fresh preconditions about 40% of its volume.
Some retailers precondition their own avocados, Thomas said, especially if they have banana ripening rooms. He estimated that 10% to 20% of his customers precondition their own fruit to save money or to gain more control over the category at destination.
Sales of pre-ripened avocados also are on the rise in the foodservice sector.
“(Foodservice operators) want product they can use right away,” Henry said. “They don’t want to have to store it.”
Speeds up foodservice vending
Henry Avocado sells custom-ripened avocados to a number of foodservice distributors, Henry said.
“It speeds up the whole process,” he said. “Distributors can be in the distribution versus the cold storage business.”