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West Pak sees strong marketing period ahead

In the produce marketing world, consistency of supply is a virtue that the avocado industry hasn’t experienced a great deal of over the last couple of years.

But that seems to be changing this year.

“We have been in a long period of more consistent supply and relatively stable market conditions,” said Doug Meyer, senior vice president of sales and marketing for West Pak Avocado Inc., based in Murrieta, CA. “Without any unforeseen challenges, we expect these conditions to continue, which makes it easier to plan promotions, and we should see an increased frequency of advertising.”

Meyer said it is no secret that “ads drive sales, even if there isn’t a big price differential.”

He spoke with The Produce News at the conclusion of a sales trip during which he talked to many retail customers about the current avocado season, and the good supplies anticipated over the next several months. Commenting on the forecasted supplies of more than 50 million pounds of avocados on a weekly basis, Meyer expressed optimism that the fruit will be moved at market levels that are good for everyone.

Speaking specifically of California’s estimate of about 375 million pounds this season, the West Pak executive said this is an on-year for the California crop.

“We have a bigger crop and a mild winter with very little rain,” he said, adding that these are some of the factors that have led to increased volume harvested earlier in the season, and lots of excitement for customers in the Western states.

Meyer said the California fruit has good oil content, which has resulted in “good performance through our ripening centers and a great eating experience” for the consumer. “We are excited about the opportunities that we have with California avocados. We started earlier this year, and we will have very good volume throughout the season.”

West Pak anticipates selling more bagged fruit this year as that is a trend that continues to gain traction in the marketplace. He said it is great for the grower-packer, as it allows for better utilization of the smaller-sized fruit, which is often a perfect fit for a bagged presentation.

Increased volume this season has also added some opportunities in the organic avocado market. While supply has had trouble keeping up with demand, Meyer said it has created opportunities for both larger and smaller size organic avocados in addition to the highest demand sizes in the middle of the size curve.

“We are a strong player in organics in both California and Mexico, and we see some good opportunities for retailers willing to take something a little bit different,” he said. “The 48 to 60 size organic avocado is like the center cut bacon — everybody wants it. But when you are packing the fruit, some of it is smaller than that and some of the fruit is larger. We see some good marketing opportunities for 32-40s, and 70-84s.”

West Pak represents growers throughout the California growing regions and is expecting to have strong supplies of California fruit from now through the summer months.

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