U.S. importers are expected to bring in about 2 billion pounds of avocados from Mexico this season — an increase of about 6% over last year.
Though Mexico ships avocados year-round, particularly heavy volume comes from October through May.
“We see good, promotable volumes coming from Mexico,” said Rankin McDaniel, owner and president of McDaniel Fruit Co., Fallbrook, Calif.
“Quality out of Mexico is very good,” he added.
Though some shippers said they expected volume to remain steady, Rob Wedin, vice president of sales and marketing for Calavo Growers Inc., Santa Paula, Calif., said he expects peak season to run from January to April.
Shipments should continue to gradually increase over the next several weeks, he said in mid-October.
“We’ll start seeing some reduction in volume by the end of March or mid-April.”
Bob Lucy, partner in Del Rey Avocado Co. Inc., Fallbrook, Calif., was optimistic about the coming season.
“We’ll see plenty of volume from Mexico until probably June 1,” he said.
He does not anticipate a repeat of the frustration felt last season when volume from Mexico underwent a sharp decline starting in late May and early June.
Instead, he expected “more balanced” volume with steady shipments throughout the season with a few spikes for special occasions like the Super Bowl and Cinco de Mayo.
There also could be dips caused by weather or delays if growers decide to hold back fruit in an effort to achieve higher prices.
It’s been a “strong year” out of Mexico so far for Murrieta, Calif.-based West Pak Avocado Inc., said Jared Bray, who handles sales and business development.
“We’re seeing some shifts in the size curve right now, which is putting a lot of promotable opportunities in the small end of the size curve,” he said Oct. 18.
Quality has been good, he said, adding that West Pak expects a “much bigger crop” out of Mexico this year.
In a word, “steady” is how Gary Caloroso, business development director for Los Angeles-based The Giumarra Cos., described the coming Mexico avocado deal.
“The market is very steady right now; there is steady volume, steady supplies and the pricing is pretty steady, too,” he said.
On Oct. 21, prices ranged from $34.25-37.25 for sizes 32-48 and $14.25-24.25 for size 60s, 70s and 84s, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
Prices are down 20% to 30% from the summer highs, Lucy said.
“There’s definitely steady, promotable volume now through the spring,” Caloroso said.
“A really good time to promote avocados is November and December,” he added, when there is ample volume coming out of Mexico, and there are Thanksgiving, the winter holidays and food-centered events like football games.
Grower-shippers said early-season fruit size has been fairly small.
“It’s not tiny,” Wedin stressed in mid-October. “It’s kind of small right now.”
He was hopeful that sizing would pick up by late November to mid-December.
“We will definitely see good sizing in January,” he said.
Supplies of size 48 avocados and larger are “less than demand,” Wedin said.
“We’ve had to encourage our customers to get more into 60s and 70s.”
Lucy said the size curve changed as the crop began in late summer with the transition from the flora loca crop to the aventajada crop.
There is less fruit in the size 32-40 range and more in the 60s to 70s, he said.
By the end of year, he expected to see a more normal size range with 48s accounting for about 35% of the packout, 60s about 25% and 70s about 15-20%.