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Calavo begins Colombian imports

As part of its mix, Calavo Growers Inc. in Santa Paula, CA, has begun to import Colombian avocados into the United States along with supplies from the other main foreign sources, including Mexico, Peru and Chile.

Rob Wedin, vice president of fresh sales and marketing for the firm, said the shipments have been light at this point but they have arrived well and are of good quality.

Rob-WedinRob WedinColombia received approval to ship Hass avocados to the United States last August, and there have been limited shipments since then, but experts are predicting that Colombia will become a significant player in the global avocado industry in future years.

The country has a robust avocado industry but it mostly grows green-skinned varieties. Over the past decade, there has been a concerted effort to plant Hass avocados and join the booming avocado trend.

Wedin told The Produce News in late July that while there are several different significant factors affecting avocado supplies for the next couple of months, supplies into the U.S. market project to be fairly close to demand.

In the past couple of years, the August-October timeframe has seen a dropoff in supplies and very high prices. The longtime Calavo executive is estimating that supplies through August and September should be near the 50 million-pound-per-week level. While that’s below the weekly average for the past four months, it is still a sizable volume and less than 10 percent below the vast majority of weeks.

One thing significantly different this year is the shift in Peruvian imports. In 2017, the peak week for Peruvian avocados was early June. This year it is probably going to occur in late July, with significant shipments still expected throughout August and into September. Those arrivals will most likely be marketed through the end of September.

California also has a much larger crop than last year, though fire, wind and heat have resulted in a significant decrease in total volume from the very preliminary preseason estimate, which saw a crop that could potentially hit 400 million pounds.

Wedin believes that when the final California avocado is shipped, total volume will be below 300 million pounds, still about 100 million pounds greater than the year before.

In late July, he said about 20 percent of the California crop was still to be marketed. He predicted that the remainder would be split between August and September, with a bit more during the first of those two months.

Wedin said that Peru’s crop was beginning to hit its stride with at least 50 percent of volume yet to be sold as August approached. He noted that the fruit, which trickled into the U.S. market in May and much of June, is mature and offering very good quality.

As far as Calavo is concerned, Wedin said its bagged program is going very well with its single-serve mini avocados also gaining favor. However, he said that availability of the very small fruit, which is typically priced at a very good value in the mini bags, will wane a bit in late summer. Those mini bags will have to feature a piece of fruit that’s larger, meaning the price will be higher than usual.

Calavo also continues to ship out of its state-of-the-art shed in Jalisco, Mexico, but that fruit has not yet been cleared for export to the United States, largely for political reasons, according to most observers. Wedin said the fruit from Jalisco is being shipped mostly to Canada and Asia.