A decision to allow Peruvian avocados to enter the U.S. without undergoing a cold treatment should result in greater supplies of Peruvian avocados during the next few months, grower-shippers say.
The U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service announced in July that Peruvian avocados are not considered to be a host for the Mediterranean fruit fly.
The ruling will enable Peruvian exporters to ship higher-quality fruit to the U.S. without the expense of the cold treatment process, which has been a requirement since the fruit was cleared for import to the U.S. in January 2010, growers said. Trapping requirements for the pest in Peru also were eliminated.
The additional supplies should be welcomed this season, since California’s avocado crop, estimated by the California Avocado Commission at 253 million pounds, was tighter than usual and should be nearly sold out by mid-September.
Peruvian fruit could bolster supplies around the end of the California season in late summer and the start of shipments from Chile and Mexico.
Peru’s volume will be about a quarter of Chile’s, estimated Rob Wedin, vice president of sales and marketing for Calavo Growers Inc., Santa Paula, Calif.
As supplies increase in coming years, the two exporting countries will have to learn to coexist as Peru grabs some of Chile’s early market, he said.
“We think it’s going to work out pretty nicely,” he added.
Peru’s presence may prompt Chilean exporters to start a little later in the season, said Brandon Gritters, avocado salesman for Interfresh Inc., Fullerton, Calif.
Peruvian supplies also could affect California growers when they have a large crop and are shipping fruit well into September or October.
Gritters said it’s hard to say yet what the overall effect will be.
“The Peruvian stuff is all new, so we’ll see what kind of reception it gets when it gets here,” he said.
Indeed, the Peruvian product has “confused the market” because it’s something new, said Jim Donovan, vice president of business development for Mission Produce Inc., Oxnard, Calif., and chairman of the Hass Avocado Board.
Peru’s first arrivals should be exceptional because that country’s agriculture department has been tough on exporters in order to ensure a high-quality debut, he said.
“They would like to show the very best,” Donovan said. “Overall, the quality I’m sure will be excellent.”
Peruvian avocados definitely will have an effect on the U.S. deal because they’ll add another source to the marketplace, said Phil Henry, president of Henry Avocado Corp., Escondido, Calif.
“I think it is causing Chilean growers and shippers to delay their shipments somewhat,” he said.
Peru shipped only a couple of containers last year to companies that wanted to experiment and see how the fruit handled, Henry said.
Growers would not have exported any avocados to the U.S. this year if it weren’t for the APHIS decision to allow the fruit into the U.S. without undergoing a cold treatment, he added.
Gritters said he expects to see small to medium-size fruit from Chile during the early part of its season, while Peru will be shipping larger fruit.
“I’m sure we’ll be using both,” he said.
Donovan said the Peruvian deal shouldn’t have a major effect on the U.S. this year.
“It shouldn’t affect anyone too much during mid-August to mid-September, but it will touch everyone,” he said.
Looking ahead to 2012, Donovan said it’s likely that, with a crop expected in the 350-million to 400-million-pound range, California will be competing with Peru for the U.S. market from May through September. Early shipments from Chile and Mexico probably will be later than they were this year.
“The U.S. market will have four distinct supply sources — two spring and summer (California and Peru) and two fall and winter (Chile and Mexico),” he said.