By the estimate of Avocados From Mexico, which markets Mexico-grown fruit in the U.S., half of Mexico’s avocado production never leaves the country.
How much goes to the U.S. sometimes depends on the strength of Mexico’s domestic market, said Gary Caloroso, marketing director with Giumarra Agricom and Giumarra Borquez in Escondido, Calif.
“At the end of the day, market prices for Mexican avocados shipped into the United States are determined by the amount of actual supply and demand in our marketplace,” he said.
Mexico’s market, in effect, creates a floor price for product, said Rob Wedin, vice president of sales and marketing with Santa Paula, Calif.-based Calavo Growers Inc.
“Consumption there is very high,” he said.
It’s an economic positive for everyone to keep prices in check and simultaneously channel product to a large domestic market, Wedin said.
However, the floor price is sometimes too high for some Mexico consumers, said Giovanni Cavaletto, vice president of operations with Riverside, Calif.-based Index Fresh Inc.
“As avocados have become more expensive, there have been periods where per-capita consumption has decreased in Mexico,” Cavaletto said. “In certain months it’s become more expensive even than meat.”
Mexico’s per-capita consumption of avocados has been as high as 18 pounds in recent years, compared to 4 or 5 pounds in the U.S., Cavaletto said.
Mexico’s consumption likely has fallen off, but marketers need not be overly concerned, he said.
After all, there’s plenty of room for growth in the U.S., he said.
“We’re in half the households right now and far less than half the menus across the country,” he said.
“That’s what all these promotion agencies are working hard to change — the perception that avocados are only for guacamole to winter salads and eggs.”
There’s room for growth in Mexico’s market, too, said Patrick Lucy, salesman with Fallbrook, Calif.-based Del Rey Avocado Co. Inc.
“It’s good, but I think it can get better,” he said.
Mexico seems to be a particularly strong market for small-sized fruit, in the 60-80 range, Lucy said.
“I know in the past avocados were kind of expensive down there, and I think it’s something they’re working on,” he said.
Mexicans’ demand for avocados is important, but so is demand from other countries, said Dave Fausset, sales and category manager with Oxnard, Calif.-based Mission Produce Inc.
“The bottom line is the fruit has such demand in other countries,” Fausset said.
There are limits on how much fruit can go to domestic customers, he said.
“If you have that demand out there, the domestic market is going to have to pay (the) price,” he said.
“It used to be Mexican consumption was at 25 pounds per capita because there was a lot of non-certified fruit, but as more growers have gotten certified, that has shrunk supplies.”