California avocados are moving well in retail, though with Cinco de Mayo being tomorrow, the drop in foodservice demand is still being felt.
Ozzie Figueroa of Henry Avocado based in Escondido, CA says currently it has plenty of fruit to get through until September with solid numbers. “In a normal season, we can go through to October-November. But this year with the pandemic situation, it’s safe to say September,” he says. “In the Southern section of California, we’ll probably be done by early summer so June-July. And the Northern section, all the way into September and maybe October. It depends on the growers and if they want to take the fruit down before that.”
Meeting California’s strong crop of fruit is an equally solid demand. “The numbers are down compared to last year because of the pandemic. But we’ve seen the numbers going up since the first week when we had to pretty much shut down with the growers, so the week of March 13th,” Figueroa says. “We saw it come down to 20 percent of what we were normally selling. But things are going up now and the demand is there. Retail has been really strong. Foodservice is mostly restaurants and that’s 50 percent of what it normally is.”
The foodservice effect
Early reports also showed strong pulls on retail for Cinco de Mayo says Figueroa. “But a big push at this time would have been for foodservice such as Mexican restaurants, cantinas and bars and that part will be gone,” says Figueroa. “Some states will open with some restaurants, but I don’t think it will be a big mover.”
At the same time, pricing on California avocados has been very good. “The prices have remained steadily strong. Not as strong as the beginning of the year,” says Figueroa. “But we’re coming into May when Mexico is ramping up production and we’ll see how their numbers come up. Normally for this time of the year as an industry, we pack and market 50-55 million pounds of avocados per week from both California and Mexico. Now we are talking about having 60- 70 million pounds. So, I do see prices coming down.”