Chilean avocado volume could surpass 2006 levels

07/09/2009 01:54:20 PM
Jose Escobedo

With normal production volumes back on track, grower-shippers report ample supplies and fine quality for Chilean hass avocados.
 
Ronald Bown, president of the Chilean Exporters Association (ASOEX), Santiago, said the industry expects 2009-10 avocado volumes to equal or surpass volumes from 2006.

“This is certainly good news for us after two low-volume years. This year, the weather has cooperated in producing a favorable scenario for good quantity and volume, giving growers and the industry as a whole a much better position than previous years,” he said.

Adolfo Ochagavía, president of the Chilean Hass Avocado Committee, Santiago, and director of the Chilean Avocado Importers Association, Washington D.C., said on July 6, “The first Chilean avocado shipments heading for the U.S. have left Chile the last week of June. Our peak season is during the months of October, November and December.”

Ochagavía said there will be plenty of fruit to supply the North American market, and that production has reached higher than normal levels this year.

Bruce Dowhan, general manager for Giumarra Agricom International, Escondido, Calif., is also optimistic about the deal.

“The Chilean crop is quite large this year,” he said. “The industry expects volume in excess of 300 million pounds. Quality should be excellent as harvest will begin in the north of Chile where the avocados are more mature and will move south as the season progresses.”

As opposed to last year, when the Chilean avocado deal was recovering from the 2007 freeze that damaged the fruit and volumes were lower than normal, this season a big crop is on the loom.

Phil Henry, president of Henry Avocado Corp., Escondido, Calif., said because of the severe 2007 freeze in July that reduced substantial production volumes from Chile, this year the avocado volume crop is back to normal.

As far as sizing is concerned, grower-shippers report mainly large sizes from Chile heading U.S. markets.

“Despite the heavy volume, early conditions suggest that larger sizes will be available throughout the year,” Dowhan said.

Dana Thomas, president of Index Fresh Inc., Bloomington, Calif., said although there will be more 50 and 60 sizes, there also will be an increased amount of larger sizes.

“This year, there is a combination of a larger crop combined with larger sizes, which is a good thing all the way around,” Thomas said.

As far as quality is concerned, the U.S. consumer can expect fine quality for Chilean avocados.

“I spoke to two Chilean grower-shippers and they told me the maturity levels look like they are on track,” Henry said. “So the quality should be good when they start coming in.”

Henry said Chilean grower-shippers have very high production standards, whether it be harvesting transporting or packing.

“They do a good job in getting the fruit from the field to the refrigerated ships, so the end result is that the quality is very good,” he said.

As far as prices at the retail level are concerned grower-shippers are confident that promotions will be big this coming season.

“With this volume we see very promotable pricing that will allow aggressive marketing to be employed,” said Rankin McDaniel, president, McDaniel Fruit Co. Inc., Fallbrook, Calif.

To move the great volume expected this season, grower-shippers know they have to count on excellent marketing campaigns and distribution programs.

The Chilean Avocado Importers Association plans to continue promoting avocados with promotions on radio, TV and billboards, as well as through consumer and display contests.

“We will start these programs in Labor Day kickoff, that is when the real promotable volumes will arrive, sometime in the middle of August,” Thomas said.

Because of Mexico’s strong presence in the U.S. market, many industry experts feel that, to achieve good returns and profits, making sure the product moves well through the market’s pipelines is all that really matters.

Doug Meyer, vice president of sales and marketing for West Pak Avocado Inc., Temecula, Calif., said Mexico is going to be a big force in the market this season, and expect a large crop. Therefore, the need to establish creative ideas for innovative promotions is necessary.
 
“These promotions need to create value and drive additional volume. I feel that the CAIA is on the mark for accomplishing this, they are presenting these promotions to the retailers and the food industry,” he said.

Art Bruno, chief financial officer and chief operating officer of Calavo Growers Inc., Santa Paula, Calif., said this year there will definitely be promotions.

“Mexico has a considerable size crop combined with one of the best Chile is going to have and although California had a small crop it looks like they might return,” he said.

“All three sources have very good crops, so there should be good opportunities for promotions and plenty of volumes for the consumer.



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