McDaniel Fruit Co. is a family tradition built upon the California Avocado
McDaniel Fruit Co. is a third generation, family-owned produce business, specializing in avocado production. “You know, we’ve been at it for a while,” said Rankin McDaniel, president of the seventy-five-year-old company.
Purchasing its first acreage in 1944 in Vista, CA, the Southern California grower takes pride in its legacy. From that first parcel purchase to helping establish the global avocado market, McDaniel Fruit Co. has developed partnerships with growers in Mexico, Chile, Colombia and Peru giving it a year-round portfolio of premium avocados.
McDaniel Fruit Co. has partnerships stretching from San Diego to San Luis Obispo. “We have growers up and down the coast, plus our own fields, which are located more heavily in the Southern District,” said McDaniel. “Our primary thrust this time of year is California.”
Speaking of his SoCal crop, McDaniel said, “we’ve got a decent crop this year, that’s going to be high quality. Our particular fields are set up a little bit better than what I think the industry is predicting.” California is predicting a bumper crop of avocados, “so we’re happy about that,” he said.
“A lot of people, especially west of the Mississippi, are looking for California avocados,” said McDaniel. “They want to use our California avocados versus offshored avocados.” He noted operations will really pick up toward the last week of March and will carry through August.
“I still think the California season will probably reach a sustainable peak volume in the month of May and then begin to taper downward as we start moving later into the summer, with a little bit less per week than maybe was originally anticipated, because we picked ahead of schedule due to the market conditions,” he said.
McDaniel noted demand for California avocados had been strong to begin with coming into the season. Add in the USDA’s temporary hold on Mexican imports, and prices are going to artificially increase. “Any kind of shortage of the supply line of an in-demand commodity like avocados, creates added pressure points and those prices are high right now compared to the normal demand-supply curve,” McDaniel said. “Prices are begining to settle down to a level that we feel is going to be sustainable moving forward.”
The majority of McDaniel Fruit’s holdings are of the Hass variety, but said they have a small percentage of GEM avocados. “Gem is a relatively recently developed variety,” said McDaniel, “It has some characteristics that differentiate it a little bit from the Hass in terms of time of year, availability and size.”
Regardless of the kind, McDaniel is a believer. “Avocados are good for you, they’re tasty and generally they’re priced right. They are a little expensive right now, but generally they’re right on the menu for most people,” he said.
McDaniel exudes enthusiasm for California avocados, “it’s a growing dynamic commodity, we’re happy to be in this industry.” Moreover, he is excited for the future, “being a family business, we’ve got the next generation coming through,” he said.