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West Pak meets customers’ needs with avocados from all major growing regions

West Pak Avocado Inc. in Temecula, CA, sources Hass avocados for its customers from all of the major growing regions that supply the U.S. market those being California, Mexico, Chile “and now Peru,” said Doug Meyer, vice president of sales and marketing, in a written statement furnished to The Produce News July 27. “All regions play an important role in meeting our customer’s needs, based on their individual preferences for supplying them on a year-round basis.”

West Pak was shipping California avocados, and “we expect to continue shipping California fruit throughout the end of the season, which will be sometime between late August and early September,” Mr. Meyer said in the statement. “The quality of this crop remains very good. We have reached peak harvest volume now. We expect declining volume each week in August.”

This season’s California crop is “less than 50 percent of last season, and we’ve experienced record pricing,” he said.

In addition, “we are transitioning into new-crop Mexican avocados, supply from Chile is now underway, and we will be sourcing from Peru,” Mr. Meyer said in the statement. “Our programs in Mexico and Chile continue to grow each year. In Mexico we are completely vertically integrated with our own team overseeing every process, from sourcing to packing to distribution into the U.S. In Chile we are entering into our 22nd year with our export partners there and we work closely with them to meet the needs of our customers. In Peru we are involved with this season’s program to the U.S. and are focused on setting a foundation that we will build on in future years.“

The new-crop Mexican and the Chilean seasons “are just getting underway,” he said. “Maturity levels and volume should increase in August with both crops really taking hold in the U.S. in September. Peru has just gained access to our U.S. market without having to go through the cold-treatment process. Although Peru now has full access, the season [in Peru] is nearing an end. Peruvian avocados are expected to be here [beginning] in early August [and continuing] through mid- to late September. Their next season will start up in the spring of 2012.”

West Pak continues to make improvements to its physical facilities and its technology infrastructure. “In our packing houses in Temecula, CA, and Uruapan, Mexico, we have installed a fully integrated Traceability Solution that puts us in compliance with our industry’s Produce Traceability Initiative,” Mr. Meyer said in the statement. “It was a complex solution involving customized software and hardware applications. We have also added cold storage capacity in both facilities.”

Additionally, “for our Northeast distribution we are pleased to be in Philadelphia on the new wholesale produce market, with John Vena Co.,” he said.

The firm sees continued growth in demand for ripening and for bagging, according to Mr. Meyer. “Managed correctly, a ripening program can really drive sales while keep shrink at acceptable levels. Bagged avocados are proving to be a great line extension that can grow the category without cannibalizing bulk sales.”

West Pak’s “consistent supply chain combined with our expertise in food safety, traceability, ripening, and category management sets us apart in the avocado industry,” Mr. Meyer said in the statement. “We started in 1982 as a small grower-packer in Fallbrook, CA, and have never forgotten our roots. We have stayed ahead of all the initiatives in our industry and focused on infrastructure, technology and our people to keep us at the forefront. Today we are leading the way in these areas, and are ready for the next challenge.”

The newest member of the sales team at West Pak is Matt Smith, Mr. Meyer said. “He came aboard a few months ago and began intensive sales and product training at our headquarters here in Temecula. Matt is focused on sales in the Great Lakes region, and he is now working from our new sales office located within our Chicago distribution and ripening center.”