Avocados should be available in promotable volumes leading up to Cinco de Mayo.
Fruit is currently being sourced from Mexico and California, and marketers reported strong quality from both.
“Cinco de Mayo is a great promotion period because the flavor from both California and Mexico is very good,” said Rob Wedin, vice president of sales and marketing for Santa Paula, Calif.-based Calavo Growers. “Also, the avocados are spread nicely across all sizes and ripening is even and predictable.”
Dana Thomas, president and CEO of Riverside, Calif.-based Index Fresh, also gave positive reviews.
“Mexico’s been really good,” Thomas said. “We’re picking in the higher elevations now, which is producing really, really nice quality fruit, and California has been excellent.”
Robb Bertels, vice president of marketing for Oxnard, Calif.-based Mission Produce, noted that the good quality of California fruit at this early stage of the season is particularly impressive in light of some recent challenges from Mother Nature.
“Given some of the issues we’ve seen — wildfires, wind, cold — we’re very pleased with the quality of the fruit that is coming in,” Bertels said. “Mexico is about where we expect it to be at this time of year.
“We’re in the back half of the production year in Mexico, and we’re experiencing higher levels of No. 2 fruit, which is fairly normal for this time of year,” Bertels said. “But overall quality has been good.”
Jan DeLyser, vice president of marketing for the California Avocado Commission, also gave a positive report on the domestic fruit available.
“The fruit tastes really good, it’s cutting very clean and blemish-free,” DeLyser said. “We’re seeing an increase in promotion of smaller-sized fruit in bags. Recent rains in California have provided much needed moisture for the trees, and we’re seeing a nice range of sizing.”
Gary Caloroso, regional business development director for Los Angeles-based Giumarra Cos., said quality has been excellent and that volumes are expected to be strong.
“Avocado harvesting in California and Mexico typically increases after Easter, so there should be promotable volume for Cinco de Mayo,” Caloroso said.
Wedin noted volume has been 20% better than 2017.
“It helps us that there was a good span between Good Friday and early May this year,” Wedin said. “This gives us time to build inventory for the promotions that Cinco de Mayo brings. Also, since the weather is improving nationwide, demand is expected to be very strong.”
Of the roughly 60 million pounds of avocados expected to ship each week in April, about 50 million will be coming from Mexico, according to promotion group Avocados From Mexico.
That estimate would put Cinco de Mayo in the same hallowed realm as the Super Bowl, because Avocados From Mexico stated in February that 200 million pounds of the fruit shipped in the four weeks leading up to the game.
Thomas projected a lift of demand of 20-25% around the holiday but noted — as did Wedin — that the context of Cinco de Mayo is key.
“Cinco’s always been a really strong holiday for avocados, and what we have to always kind of judge (is) it is not only the holiday, but springtime is when the demand for avocados increases normally, so there’s a combination factor of Cinco de Mayo promotions as well as just increased demand,” Thomas said.
With retailers and foodservice operators varying their pricing and promotions for the holiday, growers in California and Mexico should see good returns, Caloroso said. Wedin conveyed a similar expectation.
“As is normal, pricing is expected to react to the increase in demand,” Wedin said. “However, both Mexico and California have good on-tree crops (that should keep) prices promotable and without extreme spikes.”
The U.S. Department of Agriculture reported that f.o.b. prices April 4 for two-layer cartons of Mexican hass avocados sizes 32-48 were mostly $37.25-38.25. Prices for two-layer flats of avocados from California were mostly $40.25-$42.25.
The California Avocado Commission and Avocados From Mexico will be doing promotions around the holiday.
Avocados From Mexico recently launched its Cinco Delicioso program, which includes cross-merchandising with Tabasco sauce and free ripening bags for the fruit. In-store radio, display bins and other point-of-sale material are also available to promote avocados.
California Avocado Commission activities around Cinco de Mayo will include demos, fresh guacamole sales contests and display bins, among other options.