Fallbrook, CA-based Del Rey Avocado Co. was one of 32 brands recently honored by Whole Foods Market for providing outstanding quality, environmental stewardship, organic integrity, innovation, purpose and partnership.
Del Rey, along with the others, was recently announced as a winner of the retailer’s eighth annual Supplier Awards. The winners were named at a reception held Feb. 18 in Austin, TX.
“It was a great night for Del Rey Avocado and our partnership with Whole Foods, truly a humbling experience for the entire Del Rey family,” said President Bob Lucy.
In announcing the awards, Whole Foods noted that these suppliers embody the retailer’s core values and consistently raise the bar in the industry.
Del Rey Avocado was specifically recognized in the “Service & Partnership” category. In its press release announcing the award, Whole Foods cited Del Rey for “exceptional partnership and attention to service, which have made the company a top avocado supplier. In addition to always being readily available and providing transparency, the Del Rey team is committed to high quality and social responsibility by creating economically viable business relationships, utilizing technologies that minimize waste, and practicing environmentally sound agricultural practices in growing their avocados.”
The family-owned company has been in operations since 1969, owns its facilities both on the West Coast and East Coast, and has a total of five packing and distribution centers strategically located throughout North America. Additionally, the company grows in five geographic regions in California, Mexico, Peru and Chile.
Looking at the 2020 California season, which got under way in earnest in March, Del Rey is expecting to have significantly more production of organic avocados, as well as fruit into October.
Patrick Lucy, vice president of sales, said in early March that while California’s organic crop is double the size of last year’s crop, it is being delayed due to the size curve. “Most growers are seeing a size curve peaking on 60 count right now, so they are holding off hoping to see the fruit size up over the next few weeks.”
However, he added that the organic harvest would begin soon. “California growers will have to start to harvest no matter what their crop size is starting mid-April to make sure we can get everything off the trees by September. We expect good volume on 48-70 count for the summer months.”
Del Rey is one of the main distributors of the fruit from the Morro Bay region, which is the district furthest north and consequently is typically the last to be harvested.
“Early reports are that they will have a very good crop this year. However, it will be on a smaller size curve due to the amount of fruit on the trees,” he said, adding that while there will be significant volume in the 48 count, most of the volume will be in the area’s traditional size curve of 60 to 70 count.
Del Rey is expected to start its Morro Bay program in mid-August and hopes to carry it all the way through October. “We believe it is the finest avocado in the world and look forward to this program every year,” Patrick Lucy said.
In March, Del Rey had begun packing California fruit five days a week, while at the same time still importing good supplies from Mexico.
“California product is primarily servicing our West Coast customers and Mexican fruit our East Coast customers,” Lucy said.