A new regulation in Peru delayed the first shipments of avocados into the U.S. this year but should ensure a higher quality of fruit, sources say.
“If we don’t meet a certain minimum percentage of dry matter, we can’t get a certification for export,” said Jose Antonio Gomez, chief commercial officer of Camposol, Lima, Peru.
Gomez said the new regulation was self-imposed because growers wanted to make sure that all avocados going into the U.S. would have enough oil content in them to ripen.
“We’re expecting this to help our quality be even better,” Gomez said. “This is very unique in that no other country does this,” he said.
The new regulation set the standard to about 23%, according to Ross Wileman, vice president of sales and marketing for Mission Produce Inc., Oxnard, Calif.
He believes the regulation will provide positive results for Peruvian avocados in the U.S.
“It’s a good thing because as long as you give consumers a good quality of fruit, they’ll have a good eating experience, and they will be more likely to purchase again,” Wileman said.
Xavier Equihua, chief executive officer of the Peruvian Avocado Commission, also believes the new regulation should help Peruvian fruit find a home in the U.S. market.
“California has a similar state requirement, but it’s worth noting that no other foreign supplier regulates its minimum dry matter standard through a federal agency like Peru which is through SENASA, Peru’s Sanitary and Phytosanitary Agency,” Equihua said.
“It will ensure the fruit always meets minimum standards,” he said.
This is especially important since Peru is new to the U.S. avocado market.
“Anytime you introduce a new country of origin, it takes some time for it to gain traction,” Wileman said.
Of course, the present U.S. avocado market will also help Peruvian avocados find a home on American retail shelves.
“Having a strong market and a shortage of supply makes it a lot easier on entry, Wileman said.
In fact, the new regulation was partially responsible for putting Peru in its current window of opportunity.
“We started a lot later than anyone projected this year. We were trying to get in by Cinco de Mayo, but it didn’t happen,” said Eric Crawford, president of Fresh Results LLC, Sunrise, Fla.
“It turned out to be a good thing, but it was unintentional because the oil content and maturity regulation held back the season for two or three weeks,” Crawford said.
With transit time at 12-21 days, that delay put Peru in the U.S. at just the right time to make up for Mexico’s shorter supplies as its season begins to wind down.
“I think we would have had a harder time if we’d come in earlier when the market was more saturated,” Crawford said.