Marketers of Mexican avocados say they are excited about the prospect of fruit from the state of Jalisco to gain certification for entry into the U.S.
That would add to an annual volume of nearly 2 billion pounds of fruit already entering the U.S. from Michoacan, which accounts for 85% of Mexico’s avocado production and currently is the only state licensed to export the fruit to the U.S.
“This is an exciting time for Oppy’s avocado category, as we, along with our grower-partner Mevi, prepare for the U.S. to clear avocados from Jalisco in the coming months,” said James Milne, executive category director for avocados with the Vancouver, British Columbia-based Oppenheimer Group.
Oppenheimer works with longtime Mexican grower Javier Medina and his son, Javier Jr., who have product in Michoacan and Jalisco, Milne said.
“As consumption and accompanying demand grows, we are proud to present the Mevi avocado line to our customers, knowing the high quality we’re delivering,” Milne said.
Not everybody appears to be excited. Jalisco shipments likely would compete directly with California during its peak season.
In January, Tom Bellamore, president of the Irvine-based California Avocado Commission, wrote to members that certification of Jalisco-grown avocados for export into the U.S. could mean significantly more volume into the U.S. and would overlap with the California season.
Bellamore said Jalisco could export 150 million to more than 300 million pounds of avocados into the U.S. at a time when Peru is increasing its shipments to the U.S.
Jalisco accounts for 3% of Mexico’s avocado production, according to AgroChart.com.
“Jalisco will want to have a presence in the United States, but, remember, the Jalisco fruit has been able to go to some other places,” said Dave Fausset, sales and category manager with Oxnard, Calif.-based Mission Produce Inc.
Mission ships Jalisco avocados to markets in Asia and Canada, Fausset said.
Adding the U.S. would provide another outlet, although it’s hard to say how important it would be, Fausset said.
“I don’t know if it’s necessarily a game-changer, but it does give them some accessibility to this market, so you might seem some volume coming this year,” he said.
Certification could come in time for the upcoming summer deal, said Patrick Lucy, salesman with Fallbrook, Calif.-based De Rey Avocado Co. Inc.
“It’s going to be interesting because you’ll have Jalisco, Peru and California in the U.S. through the summer months,” Lucy said.
He said Michoacan shipments typically last through July.
Approval of Jalisco fruit could push Mexico’s annual avocado volume to the U.S. over the 2 billion mark, said Rob Wedin, vice president of sales and marketing with Santa Paula, Calif.-based Calavo Growers Inc.
“I’m taking the position that Jalisco won’t have shipments into the U.S. until after June,” Wedin said.
Michoacan also continues to add groves that are certified for U.S. shipment, said Giovanni Cavaletto, vice president of operations with Riverside, Calif.-based Index Fresh Inc.
“It’s going to be huge is the only way to say it,” Cavaletto said.
He said more than 80% of Michoacan’s 300,000 avocado acres have met U.S. certification standards.
“That’s been a huge shift,” he said. “As little as five years ago, that number was less than half.”