Avocado volume from Mexico has been similar to last year, and shipments will continue to increase over the next several weeks, grower-shippers say.
The country’s flora loca crop started around mid-July, said Bob Lucy, partner at Del Rey Avocado Co. Inc., Fallbrook, Calif.
“They’re going really slow,” he said in late July, with a limited number of trucks coming into the U.S.
Volume had dropped to 600 truckloads — about 25 million pounds — per week for a few weeks, he said, but he expected movement to increase to about 30 million pounds per week or more in August and nearing 40 million pounds by the end of September.
Growers were monitoring the dry weights of the fruit carefully to ensure that the flora loca crop has the right maturity level, he said.
“You don’t want to bring fruit in that doesn’t ripen or is too green,” he said. “They’re being very careful about what they bring in.”
Lucy said that customers in the East or Northeast may prefer less costly avocados from Mexico to California fruit if the quality is acceptable.
Volume from Mexico will gradually increase over the next few months with the aventajada crop and then the regular crop peaking in January.
The estimate for Mexico’s summer crop is quite strong, said Rob Wedin, vice president of sales and marketing for Calavo Growers Inc., Santa Paula, Calif.
“There are a lot of pieces of fruit on trees to pick between now and Sept. 15,” he said.
He estimated that there were 20% more avocados available from Mexico this year than last year, but they haven’t had time to size yet.
Mexico’s Michoacan growing area typically receives significant rainfall by mid-May, but that didn’t happen until mid-June this year, he said.
“You need a combination of rain and sun to make avocados grow,” Wedin said.
Rainfall was ample by midsummer, he said, and he expected fruit size to return to normal.
This year’s crop scenario was not unheard of, he said.
“It just feels more dramatic this year.”
He said suppliers must help buyers prepare for the smaller fruit size.
“We need our customers to want to buy what we are going to produce, so we have to talk to them about it,” he said.
Wedin said feedback on the quality of Mexico avocados this summer has been “totally positive,” with no reports of pests or hail.
Volume of avocados from Mexico in August likely will be 50% greater than July’s volume, he added.
In all, Mexico supplies 75%-80% of the avocados sold in the U.S., Wedin said.
Pharr, Texas-based Villita Avocados Inc. is pleased with the quality of this year’s avocados from Mexico, said Aaron Acosta, corporate relationship manager.
The company imports enough avocados from that country to supply its U.S. customers year-round, he said.
Although he agreed that fruit from the current flora loca crop is a bit small, he said the product is “very clean” and bright green, just like buyers prefer it.
There is little No. 2-grade fruit that typically is sold in foodservice packs, he said.
The flora loca crop will continue well into November, he said, but there likely will be some overlap with fruit from the aventajada crop.
Mexico’s growers should be able to keep buyers well supplied, he said.