Record avocado supplies coming from Peru
The first shipments of Peru’s ample avocado supplies landed on U.S. shores in late March. The latest projection points to the country’s avocado exporters sending almost 240 million pounds of fruit to the U.S. market by the time the last piece of fruit is sold sometime in October, which would be about a 25 percent increase over 2021 and the largest volume the South American country has ever shipped to the United States.
The bulk of those supplies will arrive in the U.S. market from mid-June through September. Relaying input from each of the importing countries, the Hass Avocado Board publishes a weekly snapshot of shipments with both projections looking forward and accurate shipments reports as they occur. The “Volume Date & Projections” report on the HAB website reveals that the first 140,000 pounds of Peruvian fruit were shipped to the U.S. market during the week ending March 27. Until mid-May, supplies trickled in, never topping 500,000 pounds in any given week. As a point of reference, the U.S. market consumes about 50-55 million pounds per week on average.
In mid-May, Peru’s number significantly increased, and volume is expected to grow quickly as summer dawns and matures. Peru shipped almost 2 million pounds the week ending May 15 with volume projected to approach 6 million pounds in the week ending with the publication of this issue. Volume is expected to top 10 million pounds during the week ending June 19 and peak at more than 20 million pounds. For a seven-week period from early July to mid-August, volume is projected to top 17 million pounds each week, representing about one of every three avocados consumed in the United States. Peru is estimating shipments above 10 million pounds on a weekly basis from mid-June through August, tapering off in September and concluding by October 10.
Xavier Equihua, president and CEO of the Peruvian Avocado Commission, believes that this season is a harbinger of things to come. He said Peru continues to increase its own production, with the United States being a very important market for Peruvian grower-shippers. While Europe is still the number one destination for avocados from Peru, Equihua said the U.S. is the second-largest destination for Avocados from Peru, and Peru is exporting more fruit to what is the largest market in the world for avocados.
Distributors of avocados in the United States are like-minded and are upping their Peruvian footprint.
Rob Wedin, executive vice president of sales for Calavo, reported that Calavo Growers Inc. will increase its Peru avocado volume in the United States by 75 percent this summer. He said Calavo’s increase in shipments is a direct result of the fact “we’ve done a better job of pre-selling programs this season. This year, we were able to negotiate a more favorable approach with retailers. During July, August and September, Peru will represent about 20 percent of our total volume.”
He added that foodservice sales have also increased and getting closer to where they were prior to COVID-19. Wedin said foodservice operators are especially fond of the large size avocados (36s, 32s and 28s) that Peru is noted for. That fruit offers a great value for restaurant operators as it is often priced less expensively than the always popular retail sizes of 48s and 60s, especially on a per-serving basis.
Francesco Risco Suarez, chief of marketing for Westfalia Fruit Peru, said that he is “very excited about our program expansion in Peru and (we) expect to increase exports by over 10 percent this year to the U.S.”
Gary Clevenger, managing member and co-founder of Freska International Produce Inc., Oxnard, CA, said his company would bring in Peruvian avocados for the first time this season, landing them at the West Coast’s Port of Hueneme, only a few miles from Freska’s Ventura County facility. While most of Peru’s U.S. bound avocados will be shipped to the East Coast and consumed in that region, Freska obviously believes there will also be a market for the fruit in the West. “The avocado market is red hot,” he said in mid-May, “and we expect it to stay strong for the foreseeable future.”
Mission Produce in Oxnard, CA, which has three avocado ranches in Peru totaling more than 4,000 hectares, did not reveal the percentage of increase in volume the company would have for this season, but did indicate its Peruvian footprint is growing. Patrick Cortes, senior director of business development and foodservice for Mission, said the company’s packing facility in Peru, which he called one of the world’s largest avocado operations, will have an “enhanced supply chain” to meet the strong demand that is expected for avocados this summer. He said Mission utilizes Peruvian avocados to fill the needs of customers across the globe, but most of Mission’s fruit from there is shipped to the United States.
Cortes noted that the larger fruit profile that Peru enjoys is perfect for the Mission Jumbo bags that the company offers to its retail customers.