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Calavo focusing on top quality from Peru

calavo For the 2020 season, Calavo Growers Inc., headquartered in Santa Paula, CA, will only be importing, top-quality, No. 1 fruit from Peru.

“We will have about the same volume that we had last year, but it will all be No. 1s. There will be no No.2s,” said Rob Wedin, vice president of fresh sales and marketing, who clarified that the company will have more retailer grade fruit from that South American point of origin this year

The longtime avocado industry veteran listed a couple of reasons for this change. In the first place, with COVID-19 restrictions expecting to have an impact on the restaurant business throughout the summer, demand for No. 2s is expected to continue to lag behind. In addition, he said Calavo’s Peruvian supplier wants to get into the prepared guacamole business, which is another outlet for off-grade product.

Wedin said that Calavo is planning to bring all of its Peruvian fruit into the East Coast, utilizing ports in Philadelphia and Savannah, GA. The first shipments are expected to arrive in late June, with the final arrival in late August.

While other handlers are in the Peruvian deal for as long four months, Calavo will sell the vast amount of its production in that eight-week time frame of July through August. “All of our fruit comes from one grower, who does an extremely good job,” he said.

He said the fruit always is of excellent quality and this year it is going to size out on the very large side. “We expect 40 percent of our [Peruvian] volume to consist of 36s and larger, with a lot of 32s,” he said. “There will also be a lot of 40s and 48s and a few 60s.”

Wedin explained that the groves providing Calavo with its fruit are still young trees, which typically produce larger fruit. He said that while some avocados from Peru are marketed in the West, California’s large crop this year will preclude much of that from happening this season.

In 2019, California’s crop ended up being about 220 million pounds, which created opportunities on the West Coast for Peru. This season, California’s crop was initially estimated at about 370 million pounds — 70 percent greater than last year. And indications through the first half of the season are that the crop will pack out even higher than that, with some estimating that the final packout could reach 400 million pounds.

As far as Peru is concerned, that means that the East Coast is a better bet for the vast majority of its production.

Wedin said that other than peaking at a larger size, Calavo’s Peruvian avocados are very similar to its production in Mexico and California. All three are packed in the same SKUs, with bagged fruit continuing to gain popularity, though bulk displays still represent the majority of sales.

 

Photo: Calavo Growers expects to ship around the same volume of Peruvian avocados as last year, but will be packing only top grade avocados. All of its fruit is destined to the U.S. East Coast this year.

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