U.S. avocado volume was expected to increase this fall after a summer of tight supplies.
Shipments from California and Mexico were down the past few months, and prices reflected the shortfall.
The last week of July, f.o.b. prices for two-layer trays of size 48 avocados from Mexico and California ranged from $64.25-66.25, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
A year ago at the same time, Mexican avocados were selling for $36.25-38.25 and California fruit was $40.25-42.25.
Peru also was in an off year but still managed to send more avocados to the U.S. than last year to help fill the gap caused by short crops in California and Mexico while taking advantage of the higher prices.
Peruvian growers will ship an estimated 189 million pounds of avocados to the U.S. this season compared to 180 million last season, according to the Peruvian Avocado Commission.
California growers will have produced 190 million to 200 million pounds of avocados by the time their season ends in September, compared to just over 360 million pounds last year, according to the California Avocado Commission.
Mexico shipped about 2 billion pounds of avocados to the U.S. during its 2018-19 season, up from about 1.9 billion pounds for the previous season, reported the Hass Avocado Board.
But volume from Mexico dipped during the summer.
During the last week of June, for example, Mexico shipped only about 8.6 million pounds to the U.S., down from about 30 million pounds in 2018.
Chilean avocado growers are expected to export about 65 million pounds of avocados to the U.S. during the 2019-20 season, which is similar to volume exported during the past two seasons, according to the Chilean Avocado Importers Association.
Calavo Growers Inc., Santa Paula, Calif., expected to finish its California crop by the end of August, said Rob Wedin, vice president of sales and marketing.
Mexico’s flora loca crop should peak in mid-August or early September, he said, and then the aventajada crop should get underway.
Volume from Mexico should gradually start to build in October and November, as the main crop begins harvesting.
“January through August next year is going to be big,” Wedin said.
Miami-based Del Monte Fresh Produce NA Inc. will continue to source avocados from Mexico in mid-August and will complement its program with additional countries of origin, said Dennis Christou, vice president of marketing.
“Early summer is a challenge due to the crop transitions, dry matter and size profiles,” he said. “All of these affect supplies and quality, which is why we diversify our sourcing to consistently deliver in full and in spec.”
The company’s California program has been “on target and quality remains consistent,” he said.
“We are selling through our production at a good pace, which may accelerate the end of the season by one or two weeks.”
Florida is expected to produce about 800,000 bushels of green-skin avocados this season, which began in May and can continue as late as April, according to Brooks Tropicals Inc., Homestead, Fla.
Brooks Tropicals accounts for approximately 40% of that volume, said Mary Ostlund, director of marketing.
The future looks bright for the coming year, with some industry experts predicting that overall avocado volume in the U.S. from all sources could reach 3 billion pounds.
Rankin McDaniel, owner and president of McDaniel Fruit Co. Inc., Fallbrook, Calif., said he is impressed with an avocado market that is “just getting stronger and stronger,” even with tight supplies and high prices.
“It’s pretty amazing,” he said. “I’ve always been bullish on the industry, but I don’t think anybody ever anticipated this.”