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Giumarra Agricom opens second California packinghouse

Agricom International LLC in Escondido, CA, has just opened its second California avocado packinghouse, according to General Manager Bruce Dowhan. The new facility is in Ventura, CA, and is designed to serve growers in California’s northern producing areas in the vicinity of Ventura and Santa Barbara, CA.

Having a packing facility in the northern growing area enables Giumarra Agricom to “have a staff there to work directly with those growers,” Mr. Dowhan said.

The company will continue to operate its existing packinghouse in Escondido which “will be designated for the growers in the southern growing region,” he said.

Managing the new Ventura facility are Tom Vaughn, Giumarra’s business development manager, and John Schaap, who is involved in sales and operations, according to a June 30 press release. A grand opening for the facility was held June 22.

Mr. Dowhan told The Produce News in a July 21 interview that within “the next couple of months,” Giumarra Agricom will be opening a new sales office in McAllen, TX. “It is going to be specifically designed to service customers east of the Mississippi,” he said.

“A lot of the product that we have from Mexico funnels through McAllen,” he said. “Then we also have some direct shipments that come from Chile and Peru that will come in through Houston.”

The sales staff of the new McAllen office has yet to be announced, he said.

Additionally, Giuimarra Agricom still has “15 facilities around the country that we distribute from” and which offer customers “a variety of services. Those are designed to be more responsive to the needs of our customers,” Mr. Dowhan said. “By having regional facilities and regional services, we can offer the customers what they want in terms of product” with respect to size, grade or origin, for example. “We can offer them product when they want it, because we can get it to their facility much quicker and be much more responsive to their orders.”

Also, “we can get it where they want it. We have a logistical network that allows us to get product to just about any facility in the country the same day or next day. And we can get them the product how they want it, in terms of bagged product, regular product, special packs, special ripening programs, branding programs. We can get them basically whatever it is they need,” he said.

Giumarra Agricom was currently shipping California product and was looking forward to supplying customers’ needs in the months ahead, as the California season winds down, with product from Mexico, Chile and Peru.

“Right now we are reaching the latter stages of the California season,” Mr. Dowhan said. “We expect that the growers will finish earlier this season than we typically see. A big reason for that is we have historically high markets, and I think it is fairly certain that we are going to see pricing decline as we get into the latter part of August and certainly September and October. I think growers want to take advantage of these very high prices, and as a result we are seeing more growers harvest rather than elect to wait till later in the year.”

Mr. Dowhan said that he expected the California volume, for the industry, to be around 10 million to 11 million pounds per week at the beginning of August and to decline to eight million or nine million pounds by mid-month and about five million pounds a week by the end of August. There will be “some residual” shipments in September as well, he said.

He expected the first containers from Chile to arrive in the United States the first week of August” with volume increasing steadily through the month of August. “We are thinking maybe somewhere in the neighborhood of two million pounds” will arrive the first week in August, industrywide, “moving up to as much as five million pounds per week toward the end of August.”

In August, Giumarra Agricom will also “begin receiving product from Peru,” Mr. Dowhan said. “Our first arrivals will come … right around August 8.”

The volume that will come to the United States this year from Peru “is hard to determine,” he said. “But if we were guessing, we think somewhere in the neighborhood of three to four million pounds per week will come in through August, and we would expect Peru to begin wrapping up the beginning of September.”

In its Mexico program, Giumarra Agricom was looking for “the flora loca season to begin here in the next week or so,” he said. “There is a little bit coming now, but [Mexico is] wrapping up the old crop,” and once that is finished “we expect them to start shipping flora loca in greater volume.”

It is “hard to determine what that volume is going to be, but I would say somewhere in the five to seven million pound range,” he said, noting that those numbers are internal Giumarra estimates of the total volume for the industry.

Among the various Hass avocado sources for the month of August, “we expect ... to have California declining, Chile increasing as we go through the month, a relatively stable supply from Peru, and a reasonably steady supply of Mexican flora loca,” he said.

Then “as we get into September, we expect a heavier volume” to start coming in from Chile. Also, following the light, early Mexican flora loca crop, Mexico will get into its main new crop harvest. So “we expect fairly heavy volumes of product, between Chile and Mexico, starting about mid-September,” with “good promotable volumes through December.”