The situation has existed for several months and is expected to last until Mexico’s main crop for the 2023-24 season is ready for harvest in mid-to-late September.
“There is limited supply of large sizes out there,” said Ybarra. “Everyone is struggling to meet the needs of the programs they have in place.”
Ybarra was mostly discussing issues concerning Mexico’s output. Since spring, Mexico, which produces about 80 percent of the avocados sold in the United States annually, has had an unusual size distribution with relatively few avocados at the 60 or larger level. Ybarra said even 60s had an FOB price of $45 on Aug. 1.
Ybarra said the solution for this season is to do a better job promoting the smaller fruit. “The 84 is a great piece of fruit and the perfect size,” he said. “There is no waste. It is perfect for a meal.”
Giovanni Cavaletto, CEO of GLC Cerritos USA, commented on the same sizing issue as he described this year’s avocado summer. “Everyone in Mexico is having a problem with size,” he said, although he did offer that growers in the state of Jalisco should be able to offer some larger fruit by the end of August. Jalisco’s location and climate allows its trees to mature a bit quicker than those in Michoacan, where the bulk of Mexico’s crop is harvested, according to Cavaletto.
Every shipper, packer and industry representative discussed the uneven size distribution that exists this season from Mexico, which has plagued the industry for many months. It is the unusual cold weather that occurred in spring and into summer that has prevented individual fruit to size as it normally does. Those weather patterns occurred worldwide and also impacted avocado growers from both California and Peru. Both sources of supply moved into their peak shipping period much later than in 2022 because the fruit was not sizing.
California downsized its 2023 crop estimate several times to reflect the reduced poundage caused by the smaller fruit during the first half of the season. Due to the later start, and the leaving of the fruit on the trees, California growers did eventually see a more normal size curve. Patrick Lucy, president of Del Rey Avocado Co., based in Fallbrook, CA, said California has had a more normal size curve since the start of summer, but its season is winding down and it just doesn’t have the volume to fill the demand.
Peru is noted for its larger fruit, but this year’s lack of size caused grower-shipper-exporters to delay the shipping of fruit to the United States. Subsequently, Juan Carlos Paredes, president of Peru’s Hass Avocado Producers Association (Prohass), revealed that Peru will not reach its goal of increasing its shipments to the U.S. market this year.
In late July, Prohass estimated no year-over-year growth for 2023. This projection represented a decrease of 8 percent from the June prediction and a drop of 14 percent from the initial pre-season estimate. Industry members said cool weather decreased production.