Cavaletto said Mexico has about a 50% share of the avocado market in the U.S.
Wider availability and a larger number of suppliers in the fall have helped to bring prices down, said Gahl Crane, avocado sales director for Pacific Trellis Fruit, Reedley, Calif.
“(There’s) a lot of different availability around and it’s really confusing to buyers, so it’s brought down prices,” he said.
“I think we’re heading into a time where it’s going to be a lot more stable going forward, with promotions going on. A lot of different agencies are doing a lot to build demand. Sports and TV, billboards and recipe contests are going to help drive demand.”
Rob Wedin, vice president of fresh sales and marketing for Santa Paula, Calif.-based Calavo Growers Inc., described the sudden fall in the market as “a lead balloon.”
Adjustments have to be made, he said, and strong demand has only increased pressure on suppliers.
“As a year average last year, prices were as high across the last 10 months as they have ever been, through Labor Day,” he said.
“Prices maybe didn’t reach record peaks, but they probably averaged pretty darn close to record numbers. It was really because demand was continuing to increase about 15% a year and in 2011, it was the first time that volume actually declined. It was the result of a small crop in California and Chile and very little increase, if any, in Mexico, that caused availability of avocados to go down. You combine that with increase in demand. You combine that increase in demand and you’ve got record prices.”
Overall, the prospects for the Mexican avocado season are positive, said Ross Wileman, vice president of sales and marketing for Mission Produce Inc., Oxnard, Calif.
“This is not an unusual transition period where we’re just trying to find that balance point,” he said.
It should be a season of ample promotions and more ads, said Phil Henry, president of Henry Avocado Corp., Escondido, Calif.
“Things will be pretty active. It should be very good,” Henry said. “Mexican fruit quality has been good.”