As avocado demand continues to rise and retailers look forward to Cinco de Mayo and summer sales boosts, growing Mexican players in the marketplace offer additional options to meet supply. “Over the past two decades, U.S. demand for avocados has increased significantly,” says Arturo Larios, managing director of La Casa del Aguacate in Westlake Village, CA. “Just since 2001 per capita consumption has tripled according to USDA statistics. With this increased consumption comes the need for more sourcing options.”
Meeting the increasing needs of the marketplace with flexibility is precisely the objective of Larios and La Casa Del Aguacate. “Our desire is to give customers the whole package - a direct company, without intermediaries that can deliver to their distribution centers with pre-conditioned and even bagged fruit,” he says.
The Mexican state of Michoacán produces 90% of its avocados with the intention of exporting to the U.S., making it a perfect origin story for an avocado export company. “We created our company there to be rooted in the actual avocado production,” says Larios. “Then we opened offices in California to be close to the market so that we can stay on top of market demands and provide greater service to customers.”
La Casa del Aguacate exports to the U.S., Chile, China, Canada, Japan, Singapore, Korea, Latin America and Europe. Last year, the company exported 380 loads to Canada. “That's a little more than one load a day,” says Larios. “We occupy third place in exporting avocados from Michoacán to Canada.”
One major development in the avocado market is growth in demand for bagged avocados. “Bags are one of the main products requested for retail sale now,” says Larios. “We are the only company with packaging capability in Michoacán and also in Nayarit.”
The company has invested in six new machines for avocado bags/nets. “We can make bags by weight or by number of pieces,” says Larios. “We have the capacity to make more than 20 loads per week in these presentations. Additionally, we have four other bagging machines available to handle overflow. We have the capability of producing more than 40 loads per week in our packaging for the U.S. market; that’s a fruit running capacity of approximately 150 tons per day.”
Given increasing transportation and logistics challenges, having fruit closer to end markets is becoming more important. Currently, La Casa del Aguacate uses cold storage warehouses in Los Angeles and in Phar, TX. “We intend to have additional warehouses in Philadelphia, Chicago and Dallas by June,” says Larios. “This type of warehousing allows us to maintain inventory close to market and offer delivery to customers. We will soon offer pre-conditioning as well.”