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Calavo Growers book record after record

Avocados ‘big business’

More avocados were consumed on Super Bowl Sunday this year than ever before. According to the figure the consumption during the sporting event was around 73,00 tonnes. One of the companies that profited from the high avocado consumption during the Super Bowl is Calavo Growers. The American avocado giant achieved a turnover of 856,8 million dollars last year. This broke all records for the second time in a row.

It was in 1924 that a number of avocado growers joined together and founded the California Avocado Growers Exchange. A cooperation which takes on the sales of the avocados. Back then it was a volume of 68 tonnes. Two years later the name was changed to Calavo. Before the end of the decade the company had built their first packaging station in Vernon, California.

In 1931 the assortment was expanded with limes and avocado oil, with which Calavo took its first step on the path of processed products. Ten years later the payment to growers hits the magical line of a million dollars. At this time the company had 31 sales offices spread across the United States. Towards the end of the ‘40s a new assortment expansion followed: Papaya, coconut, mango, kiwi, kaki and Asian pears were added.

The ‘60s were characterised by further expansions. The first guacamole was marketed under the name ‘Avocado Dip’. Progress was also made internationally and Calavo took its first steps into the Japanese market. By its 50th birthday in 1974, the turnover has reached 25 million dollars. Twenty-five years later the turnover has risen quickly to over 150 million dollars. In 1997 a packaging station opened in Uruapan, Mexico. The avocados that come through this packaging station were exported to Japan, Europe and Canada.

To the IPO
All this time Calavo had remained a cooperation at its core and was not for profit. In 2001 the members vote en masse to let go of this policy. Calavo now makes a profit. This decision was the first step towards enabling entry to the IPO a year later. The 80th birthday was celebrated with the opening of a packaging station of over 90,000 square metres in Uruapan, Mexico. The company introduced ultra-high pressure guacamole. The Dominican Republic was tapped for sourcing. The total volume of Calavo now stood at above 69,000 tonnes per year.

In 2005 Calavo announced a collective investment with Limoneiro Company, one of the largest avocado growers. Calavo’s main office moved to the Limoneira Ranch in Santa Paula, California. A year later three new packaging stations are opened in California, New Jersey and Texas. These centres are fitted with a modern sorting technique in which the fruit is sorted by ripeness. It uses an Acoustic Firmness Sorting (AFS) to do this. This means sound waves are used to determine the firmness of the avocado. In the following years Calavo took further steps outside of the fruit and vegetable sector. Tortilla chips were introduced, collaborations with a salsa producer and a processing company were entered into.

Record breaker
The capacity is considerably expanded with an upgrade for the packaging station in Mexico. As of 2012 the station can handle 2721 tonnes of avocado per week. The growth that the avocado company has been experiencing since it was founded isn’t over yet. “With pride and pleasure I can report that Calavo Growers has achieved a record in operational results over 2015,” writes Lee Cole, CEO, in the annual report. The results even surpassed the records set a year previously.

The net turnover last year was 856,8 million dollars. A year before the turnover was still 782,5 million dollars. These good results were paired with 16 percent more individual avocados marketed by the company. With this Calavo is trying to keep pace with the growth in the total market, which exceeds 907,185 tonnes. Calavo packaged over 15,9 million boxes of avocados last year. More specifically this comes down to 34,263 tonnes of Californian avocados. Besides this, 141,843 tonnes of avocados were marketed from other parts of the world. The main countries of origin for Calavo are Mexico and Chile. They are also looking at opportunities for import from Peru. Besides avocados the company also markets other products such as pineapple, tomatoes and papaya.

The company still sees a lot of potential for these products. The market for tomatoes in the United States seemed to stagnate in the first ten years of the new millennium, but despite this the current consumption is higher than that in previous years. In the past decade the tomato has become more popular, partially thanks to the introduction of new varieties. The market for papaya is also in full development. In the last ten years the consumption in the US has doubled.
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