Canadian importers of organic avocados turn to their suppliers in Mexico to get them through the winter months. In fact, the Mexican organic avocado deal runs from fall all the way through April, before California production resumes. For Discovery Organics, based in Vancouver, shipping through the US is made easy thanks to their use of bonded loads. Canada's entry requirements for avocados are generally less stringent than the United States, due to fact that the US has a significant avocado industry.
"Our current organic avocado season runs through April," said Stefan Misse of Discovery Organics. "The avocados are grown and shipped out of Michoacán, Mexico until April, after which we source from California during the summer. We do our own direct loads to Vancouver by placing our orders three weeks in advance. It takes about a week to harvest the order and another week to pack, before being trucked directly to Canada in a bonded load. This means the load is sealed in order for us to bypass US customs inspections and import regulations. We also do the same for our other organic programs."
Smaller sizes this year
Some parts of Mexico have experienced cooler weather over the winter months, and as a result, avocado imports into Canada have been dominated by smaller sizes. Additionally, because Discovery Organics supplies Fair Trade avocados, it means they do not select the sizes themselves, but shipments are instead based on weight.
"The cooler weather has not affected volume, but the fruit has not sized up as much as normal and have been predominantly smaller," Misse explained. "Because we participate in the Fair Trade deal, we contract by volume not by size."
He added that as a result of the greater number of smaller sized avocados, the market is softer in this category. "Currently, we are in the middle to end of the Mexican deal, and the market is soft on the smaller sizes. There are some pretty good deals out there on the 70 and 84 counts, and even 96 counts. Demand is strong through the late winter and spring period, with events like the Superbowl and Cinco de Mayo all happening around this time."
One category that has been getting attention are the category 2 avocados. These are the fruit that are oddly shaped or have scarring on the skin, but are otherwise good for eating. Discovery Organics has made good use of these avocados by creating a line called "Rebel".
"Rebel avocados are our category 2 fruit," Misse shared. "Normally these types of avocados stay in Mexico and are sold on the domestic market but we use them in our Rebel line, which includes a number of other fruits. Avocados are perfect for this because the internal quality remains excellent and consumers often use them for smoothies, guacamole and other recipes where the appearance is not important."