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Import volume of Peruvian avocados could mirror 2018

Total shipments of Peruvian avocdos to the United States this year could approach the more than 180 million pounds shipped last year, but the timing has already started out quite differently.

By June 1, Peru was projected to have landed almost 20 million pounds of fruit into the United States compared to less than 3 million pounds by that date in 2018. This year’s Peruvian crop is earlier than last year and more in line with recent years. Last year, the crop was late arriving, with the peak week coming the first week of August with more than 17 million pounds and August being the heaviest month with about 55 million pounds. U.S. importers were still bringing in substantial volume in September of 2018 with the week ending Sept. 2 seeing almost 13 million pounds in the marketplace. In fact, about 35 million pounds of Peruvian avocdos were sold in the U.S. market in September of last year.afp

For 2019, the Hass Avocado Board, which projects weekly volume from each country based on industry input, expects there to be an extended peak shipping period this year from Peru with three of the four July weeks topping 13 million pounds, and the bookend weeks each topping 12 million pounds. More than 50 million pounds of Peruvian avocado imports in July should make it the top volume month.

Xavier Equihua, president and chief executive officer of the Peruvian Avocado Commission, said the market will determine how much fruit Peru sends to the United States. He said pre-season estimates placed total volume this year between 160 and 180 million pounds. He reminded that Peru has multiple options with more than a handful of European Union countries taking a majority of Peru’s total crop. The United States, he said, is a very important market for Peru, but it is not its biggest market.

The market price in the United States has been very strong which led to the strong late spring start for Peruvian fruit and could see volume at the top end of the range for the year.

Rob Wedin, vice president of fresh sales and marketing for Calavo Growers Inc. in Santa Paula, CA, told The Produce News in late May that Peru has started out strong and he would not be surprised to see 180 million pounds come into the United States again this year. He expects Peru to send a greater percentage of their crop here because of the advantageous pricing, which he expects to continue through most of the summer.

Giovanni Cavaletto, vice president of operations at Index Fresh Inc. in Bloomington, CA, said Peru is a very important part of Index’s summer strategy but he said the company was anticipating that its avocado imports from that South American country will be down about 15 percent this year because of lighter crop. However, with that being said, he noted that the U.S. market is strong and so he wouldn’t be surprised if more fruit than expected does come into the U.S. market. Peru has to pay close attention to both the European and U.S. market. Cavaletto said Peruvian exporters have done a great job of building the European market and they can’t afford to neglect it even if U.S. prices climb high and they are tempted to divert more fruit here.

Ross Wileman, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Mission Produce Inc. in Oxnard, CA, said the company, like others U.S. importers/distributors, did have a solid amount of Peruvian fruit in May from the northern growing regions of that country. He expected to receive fruit from the southern growing districts in early June and sell it through September.

Mission, which owns its own groves in Peru, is very bullish on production from that country. The firm added 1,200 hectares of new avocado plantings recently and are heavily invested in avocdo production in that country.

Wileman said consumption of U.S. avocados continues to rise by about 15 percent annually and the challenge will be to find sufficient supplies moving forward. He said U.S. distributors will need to tap supplies in many regions moving forward. It is anticipated that Peru will continue to increase its own production as it has a preponderance of young trees still increasing per hectare production each year.