California avocados have hit peak availability.
Jan DeLyser, vice president marketing for the California Avocado Commission (CAC) says it expects peak supplies, which began in April, to go through July and will continue with availability through August into September. “Responding to market conditions and available supply, California avocado growers have harvested more of their crop so far this year compared to last year,” says DeLyser. “The weeks ending May 1 and May 8 saw the most California avocado volume this season so far. While no two years are the same in the avocado business, hitting peak volume weeks in May is somewhat typical for California avocados.”
Overall, supplies of Hass avocados in the U.S. for May averages at about 50 million lbs./week. “That’s an increase over the average supply in April of 43.8 million lbs.,” says DeLyser.
"California avocado growers have harvested more of their crop so far this year compared to last year,” says Jan DeLyser. Photo: California Avocado Commission.
Other regions shipping early too
Along with California, shipments of avocados from both Colombia and Peru started earlier this year than usual and volume from both countries ramped up significantly so far this month.
All of that is in the effort to meet consumer demand, which DeLyser says continues to be strong despite higher prices. “Because there has not been enough supply to meet that demand, retail unit sales are down this season,” says DeLyser, noting that in early spring (7 weeks ending April 7) California, where category development and demand is extremely high, total unit sales were down 6.7 percent. Meanwhile unit sales elsewhere in the total U.S. declined at double that rate (-13.4 percent.) “However with higher average selling prices at retail, avocado category dollar sales are up significantly over the same period last year,” adds DeLyser.
Helping fuel that demand in California is the Commission’s media and public relations campaign. The “The best avocados have California in them” campaign is underway and June marks the 10th anniversary celebration of California Avocado Month.
California avocado grower Mike Sanders inspects some fruit. Photo: California Avocado Commission.
Stronger avocado pricing
As for pricing, F.O.B. prices for California avocados and avocados overall have been some of the highest on record this year. “Based on projections from all sources of supply, we don’t anticipate prices to come down significantly this summer,” says DeLyser.
That said, she notes that there are cost challenges California avocado growers continue contending with. “Transportation is a global challenge, and cost increases impact everyone in the supply chain,” says DeLyser. “In California, growers have labor cost increases as well as the challenge of the ongoing drought in the West. They put considerable effort into water conservation and other activities to achieve and maintain sustainability.”