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Aggressive avocado promotion coming to retail

It’s been a long time since avocados were at a price point allowing for aggressive promotion at retail, but that should change in the next quarter.

Gary Caloroso, who serves as regional business development manager for The Giumarra Cos. and director of marketing for its avocado division, Giumarra Agricom, told The Produce News that promotable volume is on the horizon. “We are encouraging retail folks to promote fourth quarter 2017 and first quarter 2018. That’s exciting news and everyone seems to be excited about the possibility.”

gary calorosoGary CalorosoHe noted that demand for avocados has been amazing this past year, and with decreased volume from Mexico and California, supplies just haven’t been able to keep up. When Mexico’s new crop hits the market in the late September, early October time frame, the dynamics should change. And then as fall turns to winter and the new year dawns, the industry will have a much better handle on the size of the California crop from 2018. Currently the crop is still being made and there is a lot of weather that must be traversed over the next five to six month, but the crop had an excellent bloom. “We are hearing between 400 million and 500 million pounds,” Caloroso said, which would put the volume at more than double the 2017 crop. “We believe that from the fall through spring, promotion will be possible. It’s too early to talk about next summer.”

As the Giumarra executive was assessing the situation in late July, the California crop for 2017 was quickly diminishing. “There is still a little California fruit out there. We will have some until about the end of August and then it will be finished.”

Giumarra sources from five regions: California, Mexico, Peru, Chile and the Dominican Republic, with Mexico being its top-volume producer. Caloroso said the company is particularly excited about its increased organic production. “I think we are the largest shipper of organic fruit,” he added, noting that summer supplies of that category have been few and far between.

He said it is always a challenge to find organic avocados in the summer as it is a difficult proposition for many California growers. “The cost of water and labor is so high and production [of organic avocados] is lower than conventional fruit. It’s a tough choice,” he said to pick between loss of production and the higher price that organic avocados command. “Especially in a year like this when the prices were so good for conventional fruit.”

He said the majority of the firm’s organic production comes from Mexico where lower grower costs produce a better spread-sheet analysis for transitioning from conventional land to certified-organic groves.

Operationally, Giumarra has increased its bagging capacity, adding a facility near the Long Beach port that can offer that service. The company can also provide bags from several of its other forward distribution facilities around the country.