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Del Rey ready for California avocado season

By
Kyle Eberth

In preparation for California’s upcoming avocado season, Del Rey Avocado has introduced a Compac packing line.

“We are very excited as it will allow us to pack more fruit in less hours so our efficiency and total output will increase drastically,” said Patrick Lucy, president of the Fallbrook, CA-based company. The new line is the year-long project of Jessica Hunter, CEO of Del Rey.

“Hunter has spent a ton of hours on making sure we got the best line to help maximize our grower returns and quality of pack for our customers,” said Lucy.

Del Rey’s California season started earlier than normal this year with market conditions being good for growers, lending to an early opportunity to get some fruit off the trees. Del Rey will have promotable volume of their California crop starting in April and running through July.

Lucy and Del Rey are optimistic, “this year’s California crop is expected to be bigger by about 30-million pounds,” he said, while acknowledging that could be adjusted in the next month or two when a revised crop estimate is done.

California avocados have continued to grow in popularity around the world, with export volume increasing to Taiwan, Japan, South Korea and other south Asian countries. Del Rey expects a strong export window to Asia from March through May. “The export season tends to slow down in the summer months as the California Hass darkens-up,” said Lucy. “Our Asian importers tend to prioritize really green avocados.”

Del Rey’s GEM avocado will get an additional push this season. “It is similar looking to a Hass but has its own PLU number, so it will be marketed differently,” said Lucy. The GEM variety also tends to be a larger avocado. “In a year when we are really struggling for size 32-40 on Hass we can offer out the GEMs,” said Lucy. “The larger GEM avocado has a taste profile similar to a Hass, some people feel it tastes better.”

Del Rey is still figuring out the best time of year to harvest the GEM, but most growers and packers believe it will be available in the late spring early summer window.

“We are looking forward to marketing a lot of GEMs this season to help grow the overall California Avocado category,” said Lucy. “The size curve on this season’s crop is smaller so the best value for promotions will be on size 60ct and 70ct throughout the season.”

The size curve will be the biggest challenge for Del Rey’s California avocados. “There is more fruit than last year, but the problem is that the majority of it is size 60ct and smaller,” said Lucy. To stay ahead of this, Del Rey is encouraging customers to slide down a size from 48ct to 60ct, in order to keep them in California fruit throughout the season. Lucy added, “but it will also allow them to promote at some aggressive retail price points.

“We expect that 48ct and larger prices will remain high all season and that they will receive a large premium over the smaller sizes due to availability.”  This is where the larger GEM variety can help fill a void.

“I know I sound like a broken record, but promoting the GEM variety could be a wonderful solution for retailers or foodservice companies that do not want to move down in size but still want to feature California avocados,” said Lucy. Del Rey looks forward to getting this new variety into as many hands as possible.

Lastly, Lucy reiterated the importance of its GEM variety, “it allows Del Rey to be able to offer a wonderful eating California Avocado with good size to customers who would rather not slide down in size to a 60ct or 70ct.”

Kyle Eberth

Kyle Eberth

About Kyle Eberth  |  email

Kyle Eberth is new to the produce industry, but has grown up around it, in proclaimed "Apple Capitol of the World," Wenatchee, WA. For the past 14-years he has worked in the non-profit sector with an emphasis on brand storytelling, community engagement, and donor relationships.

Kyle graduated from Whitworth University (Spokane, WA) in 2007. He and wife Kelsey were married shortly thereafter, when they moved to Wenatchee to launch their careers.  Kyle is "Dad" to Brooklyn and Hudson, together the Eberths enjoy skiing, biking, their family and friends, and playing together in the beautiful place they get to live.

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