( Courtesy Del Rey Avocado )

Avocados from Peru already were arriving in the U.S. in May, and shipments should continue until around Labor Day, importers said.

Growers in Peru are expected to ship 160 million to 180 million pounds of avocados to the U.S. this season depending on market conditions, said Xavier Equihua, president and CEO of the Washington, D.C.-based Peruvian Avocado Commission.

Last year, Peru shipped 180 million pounds of avocados to the U.S.

Avocados imported from Peru typically are destined for the East Coast, while fruit grown in California usually stays in the West, said Bob Lucy, partner at Del Rey Avocado Co., Fallbrook, Calif.

But because of this year’s tight California crop and summer being a lower production period for Mexico, buyers might find more Peruvian avocados out West than usual this season, he said.

“It will be sort of a mix in the West,” Lucy said, with avocados coming from various growing areas.

This will be the fourth year that Calavo Growers Inc., Santa Paula, Calif., will import avocados from Peru to the U.S., and the third year of a relationship with the same grower-packer in that region, said Rob Wedin, vice president of sales and marketing.

In May, the company already had received some fruit from young trees in the furthest northern district, but that fruit had been sold by the middle of the month, and shipments from the Trujillo area farther south, where the main plantings are, should begin the first week of June, he said.

McDaniel Fruit Co., Fallbrook, Calif., continues to expand its relationships with growers in Peru and expects to import a record amount of fruit from that country this season because of the small California crop, said president Rankin McDaniel.

Shipments of Peruvian fruit already had begun in May, and McDaniel seemed pleased with the early arrivals.

“The quality of Peruvian fruit is excellent,” he said.

Temecula, Calif.-based Eco Farms expected to see good arrivals by the last week of May, said Gahl Crane, sales director.

Supplies of avocados from California and Mexico already were getting tight in May, he said, “so it’s going to be really good timing” for arrivals from Peru by early June. 

Index Fresh Inc., Riverside, Calif., has been a major importer of Peruvian avocados to the U.S. since 2012, said Giovanni Cavaletto, vice president of sourcing.

The company shipped Peruvian fruit to Canada before that.

“We’re pretty excited about this year’s season,” Cavaletto said. “It’s been a wonderful growing year.”

This year’s crop should be smaller than last year’s because of alternate-bearing tendencies, “but not a lot smaller,” he said.

The 2019 crop from Peru will start about two months earlier than last year’s, which didn’t see significant volume until August, Wedin said.

The season typically is about four months long, he said, but growers are trying to plant in new areas to extend the growing period.

Calavo should see a 10% to 15% increase in volume from Peru this year as a result of young trees maturing but more importantly, a result of growers adjusting their balance of shipments between Europe and the U.S., Wedin said.

Although Peru is known for shipping larger fruit than California or Mexico, the size curve is beginning to fall into a more normal range, Crane said.

“We’re looking at good quality and a balanced size curve throughout the season,” he said.

Growers will continue to ship mostly size 60s and larger, he said, but the volume of smaller fruit is on the rise and should increase in future seasons.

Index Fresh plans to take advantage of the large-size fruit, Cavaletto said.

“We’ve put together some promotion activities with an emphasis on the large sizes,” he said.
Index Fresh will receive avocados from Peru fruit in California and Philadelphia, which gives Peruvian fruit a freight advantage compared to some other countries of origin, Cavaletto said. 

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