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Mexican avocados facilitate Henry’s nationwide presence

Avocados from Mexico are now the primary year-round source for Henry Avocado’s established customer base in Texas and its expanding markets in the Midwest and the East. A year-round distributor based in Escondido, CA, with the majority of its customers in the West, Henry markets throughout the country from San Antonio and five other centers.

Jon Ullrich inspecting product from one of Henry Avocado’s ripening rooms in San Antonio, TX. (Photo courtesy of Henry Avocado)

“We have certified packers in Mexico that meet our company’s strict freshness and quality standards” said Phil Henry. “With a projected 15 percent increase in industrywide shipments to the U.S. from late 2011 until next summer, we will have ample volume this fall and winter to support our customers’ promotional opportunities through Super Bowl Sunday and beyond.”

Mr. Henry emphasized that the uniformity and quality of the imported avocados from Mexico has enabled the company to expand into markets that it was previously unable to serve because of limited supply that met its standards.

Markets such as Texas are now primarily served with product from Mexico. During the summer months when volume from Mexico declines, Henry’s customers are supplied with avocados from California and possibly Peru, which is now sending fruit to the U.S. market.

Markets in the West, which primarily use California avocados, are now able to transition into product from Peru in the late summer, followed by Chile or Mexico during the fall and winter when California avocados are not available, Mr. Henry noted.

Henry’s fresh avocados from the certified groves in the state of Michoacan, which are destined for customers in the Midwest and East, are distributed through the Delta Produce facility in San Antonio, TX. Henry’s marketing and sales office, located at Delta’s facility, is managed by Jon Ullrich, a sixth-generation Texan whose family has sold produce in Texas for more than 60 years.

“Offering avocados from Mexico in addition to our California product provides our customers with choices that have become critical in most markets,” said Mr. Ullrich. “Customers want to grow their sales, and the only way they can do it is if they have sufficient superior-quality product year-round.”

Like all Henry facilities, Delta is certified by Primus Labs and has operational staff in place to meet the company’s standards for freshness and proper ripening. Henry uses Delta’s refrigerated loading dock, modern cold-storage rooms and forced-air ripening rooms to meet customer orders exactly as specified.

The collaboration enables Henry’s Texas facility to virtually mirror the custom-ripening capabilities of the Escondido processing facility.

Controlling the ripening process, however, is Henry’s specialty.

“Over the years, our ripening program has dramatically reduced our customers’ shrinkage,” Mr. Henry said.

Henry pioneered custom-ripening and in addition to its San Antonio facility, it operates two CustomRipe distribution centers in Escondido and one each in San Jose, CA, and Phoenix, AZ. The total capacity of all the centers is 500 pallets.

“These distribution centers are all close to our customers to ensure our avocados will arrive at their destination as fresh as possible and all adhere to the same strict inventory control standards,” Mr. Henry said.