“The fruit always looks great out of Chile,” Wedin said.
Just under 10% of Calavo’s total volume comes from Chile, and that figure is growing, he said.
Brandon Graters, avocado salesman for Interfresh Inc., Fullerton, Calif., also reported good quality on early season Chilean avocados, but he said the fruit had not achieved high oil content as of mid-August.
“Quality will continue to get better every time (product) arrives,” he said, with significantly improved eating quality expected by mid-September.
The U.S. isn’t the only outlet for Chilean avocados.
Chilean grower-shippers have been promoting fresh avocados in Europe and other South American countries, like Argentina, as well as in their own domestic market, “and it’s been working,” said Phil Henry, president of Henry Avocado Corp., Escondido, Calif.
Per capita consumption has increased in Chile, and while 80% of the country’s avocados were shipped to the U.S. 20 years ago, today that figure is closer to 50%, he said.
Chile was shipping only limited quantities to the West Coast in August and in early September because of the opening of the U.S. market to Peruvian avocados, he said.
Mission Produce, which sources about 20% of its annual volume from Chile, was receiving its first Chilean fruit of the season the second week of August and expects to ship the fruit into March, Donovan said.
The past season was the first time in 10 years that all three major growing areas — California, Mexico and Chile — had reduced crops, Wedin said. With a 15% annual increase in demand, that resulted in some shortages and high prices.
“Prices were as high as they’ve ever been,” he said.
There likely will be a rush on the part of some Chilean grower-shippers to get their product to the U.S. early in the season to take advantage of those high prices, Wedin said.
Growers need to be patient if they hope to ship larger sizes. With a six-month season, they’ve got plenty of time to sell their crop, he said.