Bigger volumes expected from Chile this year

09/11/2013 04:20:00 PM
Jim Offner

Avocado production in Chile is expected to reach between 440 million and 463 million pounds in 2013-14, about 25% more volume than the previous season, said Adolfo Ochagavía, president of the Chilean Hass Avocado Committee.

Shipments abroad began in late July and early August, Ochagavia said.

Sizing should improve as well, said Karen Brux, marketing director for the Chilean Avocado Importers Association, San Carlos, Calif.

An ongoing drought will leave its mark, though, Ochagavia said.

“With the impact of the drought, we don’t expect to see volumes at this level in the short to medium term,” he said.

Predictions about what to expect from Chile vary among U.S. shippers.

“It all depends on prices here vs. prices in Europe,” said Rob Wedin, vice president of sales and marketing with Santa Paula, Calif.-based Calavo Growers Inc.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, on Sept. 9, two-layer cartons of hass avocados from Mexico were priced for size 32s and 36s, mostly $41.25-42.25; 40s, $40.25-41.25; 48s, $39.25-40.25; 60s, $30.25; 70s, $26.25; and 84s, $20.25-21.25.

A year earlier, prices for size 32s and 36s were $22.25-24.25; 40s, $23.25-24.25; 48s, $23.25-26.25; 60s, $19.25-22.25; 70s, $21.25-22.25; and 84s, $17.25-19.25.

Calavo relies primarily on Mexico for its imported avocados, Wedin said.

Riverside, Calif.-based Index Fresh Inc. anticipates more fruit from Chile this year than it got last season, president Dana Thomas said.

“I’d say we’re going to double the volume, at least, from last year, and it may be even greater,” he said.

Index Fresh anticipates receiving its first Chilean shipment by early October, Thomas said.

“That means we’ll be able to start with fresh supplies of really good quality Chilean fruit that we’ll be able to offer programs and promote, both with CAIA but also with our own programs,” Thomas said.

Fallbrook, Calif.-based McDaniel Fruit Co. has been marketing avocados from Chile for about 20 years. Owner Rankin McDaniel said Chilean growers in certain spots had to contend with a freeze and drought conditions, and the combination has created a few issues.

“But the overall crop size in Chile is fairly good, even with the drought and the small freeze that they sustained earlier in the season,” McDaniel said.

McDaniel estimated the freeze damage is about 5% of the crop, “which is not anything really outside kind of normal.”

In general, shippers said they’re optimistic about the potential of this year’s Chilean avocado crop.

“They’re saying it’s better this year,” said Chris Varvel, sales and distribution manager with Escondido, Calif.-based Henry Avocado Corp.

Gary Caloroso, marketing director with Escondido-based Giumarra Agricom International, also said the outlook is positive.

“This season, Chile is expecting to produce a larger avocado crop and ship more volume to the U.S.,” he said.

How much Chile will send to the U.S. has not yet been determined, Caloroso said.

“The actual amount of Chilean avocado volume that ultimately enters the U.S. market will largely be determined by market prices and demand in Europe, Chile and the U.S., as well as the country’s currency exchange rate with the U.S.,” he said.



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