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Pricing jumps back up on domestic avocados post-recall

A Listeria recall in California avocados seems to be one of the reasons the market has changed drastically and suddenly on the popular fruit.

Late last week, Escondido, Calif.-based Henry Avocado Corp. voluntarily recalled whole avocados grown in California only and sold in bulk at retail stores because they were potentially contaminated with Listeria monocytogenes. “Until then the market had the same prices for about two months. The 48s were $22-$24 per box and this week, everything is $39-$41,” says Jorge Mardones of OTC Produce LLC. in McAllen, Tex. “It created a huge jump in prices.”

Photo: OTC Produce

California down
Production in California however is still moving along, though notably volume is down overall out of California. (The Irvine, Ca.-based California Avocado Commission reports the current estimate for the California avocado crop for November 2018 to October 2019 is 175 million pounds. That’s about half the volume of 2017-2018.) “The Listeria was just from one grower and they got it very early and are doing everything they can to fix the problem,” says Mardones. “I think in two weeks, everyone will forget about this.”

However, Mardones also points to transitioning regions in Mexico as another reason why the market has suddenly seen a change in availability and pricing. “The supply is less than two weeks ago. Two weeks ago I had a warehouse full of avocados and today it’s a few pallets. Everyone’s asking for avocados,” he says.

And with demand for avocados staying as per usual, which is strong, Mardones believes pricing will stay around $40-$42/box. “This is a good price for everyone. $20/box was very bad,” he says.

Photo: OTC Produce

Green skins on the East Coast
Meanwhile on the southeast coast, green-skinned avocados have good supply right now.

“The Florida green skin market is very strong. We have a late season variety, Buck, that sits on the tree a longer time than most varieties so it has a relatively higher oil content,” says Peter Leifermann, vice-president sales & marketing at Brooks Tropicals LLC. in Homestead, Fl. “We’re harvesting Bucks right now and it’s a great eating avocado. It’s handling a lot of the demand in South Florida.” Florida, he adds, is where the demand is strongest for green-skinned avocados.

Photo: Brooks Tropicals

Nationwide though, Leifermann notes that fruit from the Dominican Republic is being distributed. “Those varieties are Carla and Beneke and the characteristics of the Carla are similar to the Buck,” he says. “The Beneke is similar to a more typical green-skin avocado—it’s got a smoother texture, less oil and it turns red-black as it ripens.”

Supply slow down
While supplies of these latter varieties are good, he does add that they may be slimmer until domestic production starts on those varieties May 15th in Florida when the 2019-2020 season begins. “The Dominican supply always tails off right about this time of year and Dominican volumes overall are less compared to last year’s season,” says Leifermann. (The 2018/2019 Dominican avocado season has actually seen fewer shipments because there was at least some Florida avocados available, although it’s about 50 percent less than the previous year.) “Importantly for now – the end of the season - the Carla has less fruit in some growing areas while the Beneke volume is average.”

Photo: Brooks Tropicals

Overall Leifermann anticipates the 2019-2020 Florida crop to be similar to the early crop of 2017, before the hurricane hit in September 2017. “2018 was a rebuilding year for the Florida trees. They were doing their vegetative growth and there wasn’t a lot of crop production especially on the earlier varieties,” he adds.

However, pricing on green-skinned avocados has been about 15 percent lower this season, largely due to the high volume of Haas avocados that have come in.

For more information:
Peter Leifermann
Brooks Tropicals, LLC.
Tel: 877-775-3752

Jorge Mardones
OTC Produce LLC
Tel: +1 (956) 651-4501

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