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Calavo Growers prepping for a busy Cinco de Mayo

Calavo Growers markets avocados from Mexico and California, and Cinco de Mayo is always a buzz-worthy time at the Santa Paula, CA-based company, as it’s the busiest time of the year with lots of excitement around its produce.

“It’s obviously a big promotional event for avocados so it’s important to us,” said Rob Wedin, vice president, fresh sales. “It’s probably about a week and a half where we see about a 50 percent increase in volume. We need to prepare for it by making sure we have inventory and indexed our price to reflect what we’re going to pay for the product.”

With 80 percent of the avocados coming from Mexico, and the holy days starting just before Good Friday, the volume out of Mexico is low. With Easter this year two weeks before Cinco de Mayo, there is not a lot of time.

Cinco “We have to be smart and cautious that we’re keeping the business in perspective and ensuring that we have the inventory to cover the orders,” Wedin said. “We have some commitments now, though not a lot. Those who come in early are those who want to do a great job promoting. We have a pricing model that’s in a way guessing where we’re going to be.”

The Cinco de Mayo price list the company works with, which is similar to a Super Bowl price list and a July 4 pricelist, is set to activate on April 17.

“We’re not shipping yet, but it’s getting really close and we’re starting to protect our inventory,” Wedin said. “The crop has been really strong volume-wise. It got started a little late and there was a delay the first two weeks of November, but it’s a bigger crop than last year. The volume has been significantly stronger than last year.”

The question is, will that continue? That’s something Wedin said isn’t always easy to figure out in March.

“Where our avocados grow, it’s very mountainous with warm valleys and cooler mountains, so the crop doesn’t move in a static way. It’s dynamic and seems to change often during the season,” he said. “Just because it’s been a certain way, doesn’t mean it will remain that moving into the next four weeks.”

One thing that does occur with avocados, said Wedin, is once the growers have gone through about 2/3 of the crop, in a lot of cases, a big portion of growers have completed their season. This means fewer growers are working, thus less fruit.

“In past years, California and Peru have filled that early summer reduction out of Mexico but we know that both of those seasons are short this year,” Wedin said. “We would use California during Cinco de Mayo for the West Coast demand but this year we know we don’t have that backup so we have to play it smart.”

Wedin said retailers get support from the different avocado associations throughout the season, but especially during Cinco de Mayo.

“Retailers are taking advantage of that help and understand avocados are going to sell well during that period,” he said. “It’s a time when they focus more on gross margin and less on competition.”