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It has been a year of relatively tight supplies for Hass avocados in the U.S. market, with Chile having a light 2010-11 crop and California’s 2011 crop being down by nearly half of what it was in 2010. Mexico also had a lighter overall crop during the season just finished than the prior year, but because of strong demand and

Hass avocados on the tree in an avocado grove in Michoacán, Mexico. Mexico anticipates shipping a near-record 680 million pounds of fruit to the United States during its 2011-12 season, again capturing roughly half of the market.
high prices in the U.S. market actually increased its exports to the United States four percent by volume for a total volume of 625 million pounds, about a 56 percent market share.

 

Prices have been in the $50 range for much of the year, roughly double what they were for much of the prior year, and movement has remained strong.

California growers and shippers, because of their much lighter crop, an estimated 254 million pounds in 2011, concentrated their marketing into a more compact time frame. Whereas last year, with a volume of 560 million pounds, the shipping season ran much longer than usual, this year volume was expected to decline rapidly during August with only small numbers carrying into September.

New-crop Chilean fruit had begun to arrive by late July, with strong volume expected from the first of September and continuing through the fall and winter. Chile expects to

Mexico’s new crop was starting light, with strong volume anticipated for fall and continuing through spring, followed by a traditionally lighter summer period. Mexico anticipates shipping a near-record 680 million pounds of fruit to the United States during its 2011-12 season, again capturing roughly half of the market.

California is expected to come back in 2012 with a larger crop, starting around April.

Added to the mix beginning immediately is Peru, which on July 22 received official authorization from the U.S. Department of Agriculture to ship Hass avocados to the United States without cold treatment or fumigation. The Peruvian season was approaching its finish when news of the approval arrived, but Chilean fruit was expected to begin arriving about mid-August and continue for about a month, with a total import volume of perhaps 20 million pounds entering the market during that period. Next year, Chilean avocados will begin arriving in April, and one importer estimated that the total for 2012 could be around 50 million pounds.

Most California avocado shippers will be handling some of the Peruvian fruit, which is said to be of excellent quality, just as they also handle fruit from Mexico and Chile.

Other minor sources of Hass avocados in the U.S. market are the Dominican Republic and New Zealand. According to Jose Luis Obregon, executive director of the Hass Avocado Board, The Dominican Republic contributes around 10 million pounds to the U.S. market each year. New Zealand, having other market options, sends little or none of its crop to the United States in some years, but “this year, they have a huge crop. We are expecting to see some New Zealand fruit in the market,” said Mr. Obregon.

On a calendar year basis, HAB projects total movement of 1.44 billion pounds of Hass avocados from all sources in the United States in 2012, shattering the previous record of 1.2 billion pounds, as demand continues to grow and available supplies are expected to come closer to meeting that demand than they have in the current year.

That all adds up to abundant promotional opportunities for retailers in the year ahead.

Meanwhile, the Florida green skin avocado season, which runs May through December, will be at peak volume from August through fall. This year’s crop is projected at 120 million bushels, up about 40 percent over last year.