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Freska to tout mangos and avocados

Mangos from Ecuador and Brazil and Mexican avocados will be top of mind as the crew from Freska Produce International LLC takes the show floor at the Produce Marketing Association convention in New Orleans this month.

Chief Operating Officer Gary Clevenger told The Produce News during the last week in September that after months of limited supplies and very high prices, avocado volume out of Mexico was picking up and the market price was starting to drop. “We’re down to $50-60 per carton this week,” he said on Sept. 29, “and we should continue to see more price correction with the volume we’re expecting.”

As producers from California and Peru exited the market in August without a corresponding increase in Mexican supplies, the market price continued to climb into the stratosphere. Quotes at more than $100 per carton for California’s dwindling crop were noted in the San Francisco market in September and Mexican avocados were commonly above $80 per carton at the Texas border. But Clevenger said indications are that October volume will be strong. “We are going to need f.o.b. prices in the $30-40 [per carton] range to see promotions pick up.”

Clevenger said estimates are that Mexico has a 2.2 billion pound crop with about 1.75 billion pounds of that expected to be sent to the United States. California is also expected to have a good crop in 2018 (in the 400 million pound range) with some shipments coming as early as January, he said, adding that if Mexico doesn’t start moving its crop there could be a logjam of supplies in the January to May time frame.

The mango situation is a bit more nuanced. Supplies from the most northern Mexican production area lasted longer than usual, which cut into the beginning of the Brazilian deal. Because of both its timing window and the distance the Brazilian fruit has to travel, it typically hits the U.S. shores at a higher price. But rather than a $7-8 market, it was in the $5-7 range in September. Clevenger anticipated a strong market for Brazil throughout October. In late October and early November, however, exporters in Ecuador will join the party and the market should see more fruit. Clevenger said there should be enough fruit to fill orders but not so plentiful to fuel low-price promotions.

By December, Peruvian shippers will also be shipping fruit to the United States, and there should be an uptick in volume. Clevenger expects there to be good supplies for the holidays with promotable volume. The traditional mango shoppers — typically those with roots in Mexico, Central or South America or Asia — respond very well to mango promotions, buying mangos in multiples when the price comes down.

Freska will occupy Booth No. 3671 at PMA’s Fresh Summit.