Consumers seem to have an affinity for organic avocados, and suppliers are doing their best to keep the organic pipeline flowing.
Los Angeles-based The Giumarra Cos. is one of the largest suppliers of organic avocados in the U.S., said Gary Caloroso, regional business development director.
“Our organic avocado volume continues to grow to meet the growing needs of our customers,” he said.
Prices for organic avocados appear to be “stable,” he said.
“As a result of the pandemic and subsequent economic crisis, more retailers are offering more competitive prices for consumers,” Caloroso said.
Organic avocado groves typically produce lower yields than conventional ones, so it’s important that growers receive higher returns for their organic crops, he said.
“Our hope is that retail organic avocado prices to continue to be higher than conventional avocado prices in the stores because it costs more money to grow organically,” he said.
“It is important to create the financial incentive for avocado growers to grow organically.”
The volume of organic avocados out of California has significantly increased, said Rob Wedin, vice president of sales and marketing for Santa Paula, Calif.-based Calavo Growers Inc.
“We’re gaining growers, and we’re able to represent them better with our customers,” he said.
Volume slowed this year, though, when the size of the organic fruit coming from Mexico grew, he said.
“Organic avocados are expensive,” he said, so consumers tend to prefer less-costly smaller fruit.
California growers, who were producing smaller organic avocados, saw sales increase 160% over last year because they were offering smaller fruit, he said.
Meanwhile, sales of organic fruit from Mexico were the same as last year.
Organic avocados account for 5% to 10% of Calavo’s avocado sales, he said.
About 20% of the avocados marketed by Del Rey Avocado Co. Inc., Fallbrook, Calif., are organically grown as more mainstream retailers add organics to their produce offerings, said partner Bob Lucy.
“Everybody has organic in their stores,” he said.
Organics is a good niche for the company’s growers, who have a high market share of California organic avocados, he said.
Del Rey has to bring in organic fruit from Peru or to fill customer’s needs when California can’t handle it all.
“It used to be a niche,” he said. “Now, it’s no longer a niche.”
Retailers only offer organic versions of certain commodities, but that’s not likely to happen with avocados. The supply simply is not there, said Megan Berenbach, organic category manager for Oxnard, Calif.-based Mission Produce.
“Global demand for avocados as a whole is just outrageous — in a good way,” she said.
Consumption is gaining week over week and year over year in China and other Asian countries, so already demand is well above supply, she said.
There’s just not enough volume for organic avocados to take over the entire market, she said, “but I do think that gap will get smaller.”
The organic avocado program at Mission Produce is growing every year, just like the industry, Berenbach said.
“Demand is through the roof,” she said.
“Our biggest issue is not getting supply as demand continues to increase at a bigger rate than supplies.”
When it comes to avocados, it’s not a one-size-fits-all situation, said Aaron Acosta, corporate relationship manager for Villita Avocados Inc., Pharr, Texas.
Some regions prefer larger fruit, while others prefer smaller sizes, he said.
And demand for organic avocados in general is not consistent across the U.S.
“We see that there are certain pockets of the U.S. that prefer an organic avocado,” he said.
But with the sales data that’s available today, it’s easier to pinpoint where those pockets are and develop year-round programs for those regions, Acosta said.
The healthiest appetites for organic avocados are found on the West Coast and the East Coast, especially the Northeast, he said.
Gahl Crane, sales director for Eco Farms, Temecula, Calif., said the organic category continues to be a growing part of avocado sales and consumption.
He had a positive view of California’s 2020 crop.
“It’s been very good year for California organic — very good supplies, good demand,” he said.
Some buyers opt for Peruvian organic avocados, and they also have been a big part of the company’s program, he said.
Mexico’s volume has been down this summer but was ramping up as the season progressed, Crane said.
Organic fruit accounts for at least 10% of Eco Farms’ avocados, he said.