Denise Junqueiro, director of marketing for Mission Produce, talks with booth visitors about the company's work to entire a consistent avocado supply for its customers. ( Ashley Nickle )

ANAHEIM, Calif. — Mission Produce launched a campaign this year describing itself as the most advanced avocado network, and a key component of the message is the company’s commitment to diversifying its sourcing to ensure a consistent supply.

“Not only is it year-round supply, but it’s multiple sources of supply to have the surety of supply,” said Denise Junqueiro, director of marketing for Mission. “That’s been a big issue in the avocado category, so we’ve really, really been striving to continue to have that surety of supply for our clients worldwide.”

The vast majority of the avocados imported by the U.S. come from Mexico, and strikes last season caused significant disruptions. To help mitigate any such issues in the future, Mission has been increasing its plantings in other countries.

“We try to be good partners to everybody who we work with in Mexico to hopefully minimize that ... anything that we can do, we’re really striving towards that, but there is no control, so we just keep planting other places,” Junqueiro said.

She noted Mission has planted 1,500 hectares (about 3,700 acres) in Colombia and has also increased its acreage in Peru from 2,600 hectares to more than 3,000 hectares (about 7,400 acres).

“Our goal is even if strikes were to happen in the future that ... if you’re our customer, you won’t be able to feel them as strongly as if you were not,” Junqueiro said. “It’s a few years out, but that is really what we’re striving towards, to mitigate that as much as possible.”

Along those same lines, Mission is working toward more control of its overall supply chain.

“One of the reasons for a lot of new plantings is for vertical integration,” Junqueiro said. “We control the fruit, we know exactly how much is coming out, so it makes a big difference in the customer experience. If you compare our Peruvian program with our customer base to the rest of the year, they will tell you there’s definitely a surety of supply with that.

“And they’re on programs, so they know how much fruit they’re getting, and they know what’s the price going to be, versus the way that it operates in Mexico,” Junqueiro said.

Mexico remains far and away the dominant avocado supplier for the U.S., having exported nearly 2 billion pounds of the fruit to the U.S. in 2018, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s Economic Research Service. Peru, the most significant source of avocados aside from Mexico, exported roughly 180 million pounds of fruit to the U.S. last year.

Mission expects larger crops this year from all its sources, including Mexico, Junqueiro said.