Calavo Growers Inc., Santa Paula, Calif., packs more than 2.5 million consumer bags a month at its Mexico packing facility in Michoacan, says Rob Wedin, vice president of sales and marketing. The company recently opened a similar facility in Jalisco, but since the U.S. still only accepts avocados from Michoacan, Calavo uses its Jalisco facility to pack product for export to other markets. (Photo courtesy Calavo Growers Inc.)
The wait goes on for the final authorization that would allow avocados grown in the Mexican state of Jalisco to be exported to the U.S.
Currently, only fruit from the state of Michoacan can be certified for shipment to the U.S.
In June 2016, the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service authorized the importation of hass avocados from all areas of Mexico that have an approved operational work plan as long as they are accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate.
The deal has not been finalized, though, and no one seems to know when that will happen.
The agreement has been “sealed and delivered,” said Rob Wedin, vice president of sales and marketing for Calavo Growers Inc., Santa Paula, Calif. “It’s just not signed.”
“Jalisco has done everything they’re supposed to,” said Gary Caloroso, regional business development director for Los Angeles-based The Giumarra Cos. “It’s caught up in a political situation in Washington, D.C.”
Robb Bertels, vice president of sales and marketing for Mission Produce Inc., Oxnard, Calif., said the word is that a trade dispute involving potato exports from the U.S. to Mexico is gumming up the works.
Index Fresh Inc., Riverside, Calif., recently signed a letter supporting opening up Jalisco that was sent to Sonny Perdue, U.S. secretary of agriculture, said Giovanni Cavaletto, vice president of sourcing.
There was some “cautious optimism” that access for Jalisco avocados to the U.S. market could be included in the ongoing renegotiations for the North American Free Trade Agreement, he said.
But he added that “with the chaos in Washington,” it’s not known when that might happen.
Growers in Jalisco aren’t sitting idly by, however. They’re shipping their fruit to places like Europe, Japan, Canada and Hong Kong, Wedin said.
He added that scientists from China have been checking out the region, which could be a precursor to approving shipments to China.
In view of steadily increasing demand, Giumarra embraces the idea of receiving avocados from Jalisco, Caloroso said.
“Having Jalisco come in would be beneficial to the industry,” he said.
The state would not provide much more volume at first, he said, “but it definitely would help.”
Supplies from Jalisco might be particularly beneficial during the rainy summers when supplies of Mexican avocados traditionally are lightest, said Phil Henry, president of Henry Avocado Corp., Escondido, Calif.
Calavo recently opened a new packing facility in Jalisco, Wedin said.
Index Fresh has been shipping out of Jalisco to other export markets for about seven years, Cavaletto added.
“We think it’s a great area for avocados — especially early avocados,” he said.
But the company is eager to add the U.S. to its list of export destinations.
“They’re all set up,” Cavaletto said. “They’re just waiting for USDA to give the green light.”