First Chilean avocado shipments set for early October - The Packer

First Chilean avocado shipments set for early October

09/07/2012 12:59:00 PM
Jim Offner

An abundant California crop will keep pumping product into the U.S. marketplace through the end of September or into early October, which means a bit of a delay on upcoming Chilean shipments.

The crop looks good, although volumes won’t match last year’s, said Adolfo Ochagavia, president of the Chilean Hass Avocado Committee, which is based in Santiago.

The committee forecasts a volume of 408 million pounds, or 8% down from 2011-12, and plans to export 227 million pounds, including 135 million pounds bound for the U.S., Ochagavia said.

“Our arrivals with bigger volumes will start in October and last until March,” Ochagavia said.

The delay is no reason to worry, though, marketers say. They said it actually could work to the advantage of Chile and its avocado customers in the U.S.

“I think the maturity of the Chilean fruit is going to be very good,” said Doug Meyer, sales and marketing director with Temecula, Calif.-based West Pak Avocado Inc.

That means higher-quality fruit with good sizing, Meyer said.

“By the time the fruit arrives, maturity levels should be very good, so the quality will be there, which is essential,” Meyer said.

The delay is not a big concern, said Dana Thomas, president of Bloomington, Calif.-based Index Fresh Inc.

“In many ways, I think it helps provide a better window for the fruit,” he said.

First shipments are anticipated for early October, said Phil Henry, owner of Escondido, Calif.-based Henry Avocado.

“As far as promotable volume, I’d say it would be more like the middle of October,” he said.

The abundant supplies are showing up in the form of much lower prices this year than last, when California and Mexico had lower volumes.

On Sept. 4, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported two-layer cartons of hass avocados from the southern district of California were priced at $24.25-25.25 for size 32s; $25.25-26.25 for 36s and 40s; $26.25-28.25 for 48s; $25.25 for 60s; $22.25-23.25, 70s; and $19.25, 84s.

One year earlier, the USDA reported prices of $52.25-54.25 for size 32-48s; $48.25-50.25, 60s; and $45.25-47.25, 70s.

The delay creates a “great window” for Chile in the fall and winter, Henry said.

“It’s much better because the quality of their fruit has reached a higher maturity level,” he said.

It works out better for Chile to separate itself a bit from other competitors, said Ross Wileman, vice president of sales and marketing with Oxnard, Calif.-based Mission Produce Inc.

“Traditionally, Chile has come on a bit earlier than we’re seeing this year, but with the big California crop, the Peruvian fruit coming in for a full season for the first year, new supplies out of Mexico, they’ve elected with their smaller crop to delay coming to the U.S.,” he said.

He agreed delayed shipments will lead to higher-quality fruit.

“The quality of the fruit will be much improved because it will have much higher maturity,” he said.

Wileman said Chile traditionally has been more of a fall-winter deal.

“It’s always been there, but it will probably be now more of a fall-winter-spring type of program, and it will probably go through March instead of January or February,” Wileman said.



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