Quality on early fruit out of Mexico “looks good this year,” says Brent Scattini, vice president of sales and marketing for Oxnard, Calif.-based Mission Produce Inc. “The carryover that started at the end of last season has allowed the fruit to size up nicely,” he says. ( Photo courtesy Mission Produce Inc. )

U.S. avocado importers were hopeful in late October that a disruption of avocado shipments from Mexico that broke out Oct. 29 would be short-lived.

Growers were protesting what they consider to be low prices for their product and installed checkpoints on all major roads in the Michoacan growing region, preventing picking crews and field trucks from entering the groves, according to an industry update from APEAM — the Avocado Producers and Exporting Packers Association of Michoacan.

The action already was impacting avocado markets, said Robin Wedin, vice president of sales and marketing for Calavo Growers Inc., Santa Paula, Calif.

“Inventories are dropping quickly,” he said Oct. 31.

“We’re going to run out of avocados sometime next week if they don’t get back in and get going again.”

Prices also were on the rise, he said.

APEAM said its executives were working to resolve the issue through meetings and conversations with police agencies, the federal government and growers.

“We remain confident that these actions will soon lead to the end of this episode and the restoration of our normal activities,” APEAM said in its update.

Growers undoubtedly were disappointed by falling avocado prices, which began to slip in August on anticipation of a bigger crop, Wedin said.

In mid-October, he said the f.o.b. price of a box of avocados was $12 lower than it was a year earlier. 

He estimated that the U.S. imported 1.9 million pounds of avocados from Mexico from July 2017 through June 2018, and he expected that number to be up to 2.1 million pounds for the current crop year.

Prices have dropped from where growers would like to see them, Rankin McDaniel, owner and president of McDaniel Fruit Co., Fallbrook, Calif., said before the disruption.

But he said the drop should be temporary.

“We do expect the market to rebound,” McDaniel said.

Meanwhile, he said, “Quality looks very good.”

“Sizing is running to the normal size patterns as far as we can see for this time of year,” he said in mid-October.

Growers had reason to be excited about the latest crop.

“Mexico is projecting a slightly larger crop for the first time in five years,” said Giovanni Cavaletto, vice president of sourcing for Index Fresh Inc., Riverside, Calif.

Quality should be good as well.

“Cosmetically, the quality has never been better on what we’re seeing coming out of Mexico right now,” he said in mid-October.

About 30% of the fruit was size 48s; 25%, size 60s.

“It sounds like there will be lots of promotable volume, especially on the smaller avocados moving forward,” he said.

Volume from Mexico could be at least 10% higher this year than last year, said Paul Weismann, president of Healthy Avocado Inc., Berkeley, Calif.
Supplies from California and Peru were winding down in mid-October, but he said increased volume from Mexico should keep prices “reasonable” until the Super Bowl or beyond.

“It should be a good time for consumers, and a good time for stores to promote,” he said.

“Fruit quality looks good this year,” said Brent Scattini, vice president of sales and marketing for Oxnard, Calif.-based Mission Produce Inc.
“The carryover that started at the end of last season has allowed the fruit to size up nicely,” he said.

There now are 326,000 certified acres in Michoacan, up from 311,350 last year, Scattini said.

There have been ample supplies of labor and water in Michoacan, said Gary Caloroso, business development director for The Giumarra Cos., Los Angeles.

Giumarra’s volume from Mexico continues to rise, he said.

“Mexico has a lot of promotable volume, which is great for customers.” 

 
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