Supplies of SlimCado tropical avocados are currently solid.
“We’re peaking on domestic production of SlimCados right now with the advent of the Monroe variety season. Although volume is down in the Florida industry as a whole, we are having a recent-record late-season harvest,” says Peter Leifermann with Brooks Tropicals LLC in Homestead, Fl.
The fruit—an avocado with lower fat and fewer calories than a traditional Haas avocado—is averaging at more than 1.5 lbs each and has a great shelf life, says Leifermann. “It’s a “clean” variety and being late-season fruit, has a higher oil-content than summer fruit,” he says.
DR volume also up
Neil Palmer “Pal” Brooks of Brooks Tropical. Brooks also happens to be the namesake of the Palmer variety of avocado.
Meanwhile supplies of the Semil variety are also coming in strong from the Dominican Republic. “November and December offer two consecutive promotable months of fruit in the widest range of sizes,” says Leifermann, noting that the Dominican season is up compared to last month.
Competing with the SlimCado are, of course, the Haas avocado. “One day we’ll convince retailers to co-promote both,” says Leifermann, who notes that a substantial portion of Haas avocado groves and trees worldwide are grown on root stock from seeds of Florida and Dominican tropical avocados.
As for demand, Thanksgiving is the short-term challenge. “Thanksgiving doesn’t typically allow much shelf space for our large avocados. But promotional price levels will continue through December,” he says. “We distribute SlimCado throughout North America but the larger, more diverse population centers are hubs of demand.” Altogether this puts pricing currently at affordable levels. “Earlier in the year, during the light Florida crop, prices were much stronger and I expect them to return to a loftier position in January,” adds Leifermann.
The consumption trends on SlimCados are also evolving which could influence demand. “SlimCados were originally a hit with health-conscious consumers when we debuted the label decades ago. Now, consumers look more for variety and value--two things our avocados have more than anything else,” says Leifermann. He says that while Hass are most popular in Mexico and have developed in the States as a result of beneficial trade considerations including NAFTA and relaxed Phytosanitary restrictions, tropical avocados are the most popularly consumed avocado in the rest of the world. “Consumption will only continue to grow as a result of healthier eating habits and further population diversification,” he says.
Although to meet that consumption, the fruit continues to deal with climate challenges. “Because SlimCados are truly tropical, Mother Nature is the first consideration with regards to the health of the industry,” says Leifermann. “We’re constantly dodging storms and extreme weather events.” That said, he says that land value domestically and production costs in the U.S. and abroad are issues the industry is also continuing to contend with in more effective ways. “Producing fully food-safe and environmentally and socially sustainable fruit has real challenges that, until now, have been borne almost exclusively by the growers,” he says.
As for Brooks, it continues to work on developing patented varieties and focusing its efforts on maximizing production of marketable fruit, says Leifermann. “We pioneered hydro-cooled avocados years ago and we continue to fine-tune post-harvest processes,” he adds.