A worker picks avocados grown in Temecula, Calif., for Oxnard, Calif.- based Mission Produce Inc. earlier this season. Volume may be light for the remainder of the summer, says Patrick Cortes, director of sales, but things should pick when Mexico’s new crop ramps up in the fall. ( Tom Burfield )

Supplies may be a bit tight during July and August, but when all is said and done, total volume of hass avocados sold in the U.S. this year should be up, according to the Mission Viejo, Calif.-based Hass Avocado Board.

In fact, Mexico, California, Peru, Chile and Colombia all were expected to ship more fruit this year than last.

The 2018 Hass Avocado Board estimate for U.S. volume is 2.4 billion pounds, said Emiliano Escobedo, executive director. As of late July, however, it was tracking to be 2.45 billion pounds.

Volume as of late July was 1.5 billion pounds, about 18% over the same time last year.

“It’s a very healthy rebound in volume,” Escobedo said.

Total U.S. volume for conventional hass avocados last year was 2.07 billion pounds.

“The late season/fall avocado season is shaping up well,” said Joe Dugo, national sales director for Naturipe Avocado Farms, Estero, Fla.

“The transition to the loca (flower) crop from negra in Mexico is happening now,” he said July 27.

Peruvian fruit will be available in the U.S. until mid- to late September, he said.

“Overall, we anticipate an orderly transition from Peru to Mexico in the next few weeks,” Dugo said.

The avocado program at Coral Gables, Fla.-based Del Monte Fresh Produce NA continues to see significant year-over-year sales growth, said Dennis Christou, vice president of marketing.

“We have operations and distribution centers around the world that utilize advanced technologies, providing enhanced food safety, consistent quality, and environmental sustainability,” he said.

The company, which grows in Mexico, California, Peru and Chile, expected to start its new crop out of Mexico in mid-August.

California’s 2018 crop will be larger than last year’s 215 million pounds, said Jan DeLyser, vice president of marketing for the Irvine-based California Avocado Commission.

But the 300 million pounds expected to be shipped will be less than the 375 million pounds projected at the beginning of the season.

A heatwave in early July caused heavy fruit drop.

Groves in the eastern growing areas dropped about 30% of their fruit during the hot weather, estimated Rob Wedin, vice president of sales and marketing for Calavo Growers Inc., Santa Paula, Calif.

But growers reported good quality on the remaining fruit.

Peru started shipping avocados to the U.S. in mid-June in a small way, said Bob Lucy, partner in Del Rey Avocado Co. Inc., Fallbrook, Calif. But volume cranked up quickly.

“From about June 20 until now, it’s been really banging away,” he said in late July.

The challenge for Peruvian avocados is their large size, he said.

Peruvian growers tends to ship more size 32s and 36s than the industry can handle, he said, so they must be discounted.

As volume from California and Peru winds down, shipments from Mexico should pick up, said Brian Gomez, vice president of GreenFruit Avocados, Newport Beach, Calif.

But he doesn’t expect to see heavy volume from Mexico right away.

“We’re going into a short Mexican crop,” he said in late July.

“We’re going to see a short market and maybe a rise on pricing for the months of August and September and then back to normal toward the middle of October,” Gomez said.

It was too early to say for sure what U.S. volume from Chile will be this year, but Karen Brux, managing director of the San Carlos, Calif.-based Chilean Fresh Fruit Association, said she expected a small increase as well as a longer season.

“Total volume harvested in Chile will be greater than last year, so that will have a positive impact on what the U.S. receives,” she said.

“Dry matter and size range are looking great, and we estimate that Chilean avocados will start arriving to the U.S. market by early September.”

Calavo imports some avocados from Colombia, Wedin said. And he expects new plantings to increase that volume.

“It’s going to take time,” he said.

The main Colombia volume could start showing up in the U.S. in October, he said.

 
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