Eco Farms sales director Gahl Crane says tight supply periods from Mexico have reinforced the importance of sourcing from diverse origins. Guacamole-shutterstock_256536637 – npanorama
He says there have been a lot of “ups and downs” this year for avocados but overall returns have been good for growers while supermarkets were still content with pricing and sizing.
“For us as a company we’re pretty diverse between foodservice and retail, so we have a nice balance ourselves,” he tells www.freshfruitportal.com.
“Even with Mexico being the market leader they still had some supply challenges, and California was really able to step in to fill those needs and supply supermarkets throughout the country.
“I think specifically this year it really showed the industry and specifically large retailers how important it is to have strong connections to California avocado packers and shippers due to the fact that it can sometimes be the only fruit available to pick up the flack when other countries are falling short of supply.”
More recently, he says rain has affected supply out of Mexico, and the ‘Flora Loca’ volume hasn’t been as large as expected.
“Overall it seems to be a little bit more stable but we are seeing prices going up once again,” he says.
“A few months ago we saw US$60 prices and there’s nothing that’s going to stop that happening again, which is not exactly good for the industry.”
Eco Farms also sources early season Chilean avocados from Exportadora El Parque, bringing in first shipments in the week of Aug. 15. This is not a new development for the company, but it goes to show how a diversified supply platform can pay off in tight times.
“The general [Chilean] season is used to getting started mid-to-late September, but with the particular location of these groves, most of the fruit is ready with very good dry weight.
“We brought it in early-to-mid August – this is not atypical but market conditions are a little bit different to previous years.
“We are doing what it takes to cover our chain stores and cover our retailers who have been so loyal to us and to the category.
“That’s part of our global strategy, bringing it in from Peru weekly, bringing it in from Chile; that’s par for the course for us, but for sure it’s given us an advantage to be able to offer an additional country of origin in a challenging time like this.”
The Chilean perspective
Exportadora El Parque commercial manager Cristóbal Iglesis says the start to the season has gone very well.
“We started shipping a month ago, as soon as we started to have fruit with more than 23% dry material; fruit which is in the higher parts of our fields. We began the season in week 28 with simultaneous shipments to the United States and Europe.
He says the gap in large-sized fruit supplies from Mexico was a key driver of sending earlier to the United States, mainly because the country’s Flor Loca variety was concentrated in 60, 70 and 84 counts, bringing about an “excellent trade alternative” for 36, 40 and 50 counts from Chile.
“Mexico was very concentrated in small sizes and we started with a harvest of large sizes. The trading window for our avocados was very clear,” Iglesis says.
He says spot prices are offering the best prices at the moment, but how long this will last depends 100% on Mexico.
He expects the company to export 11,000 metric tons (MT) of Hass avocados, or around 520 containers, with Europe set to receive 60-70% and the U.S. 10-20%; other destinations include Argentina, China and Central America.