The 2011-12 Mexican avocado season for McDaniel Fruit Co. in Escondido, CA, started in August with “the Flora Loca crop,” a light, early-season bloom that precedes the main crop, according to Rankin McDaniel, the company’s president. It was a “moderate-sized crop, which was very good quality and was accepted in the market very well, and we moved through that particular season fairly rapidly.”
Now “we are moving into the balance of the season, which consists of several different sets but is primarily the bulk of the Mexican season for McDaniel Fruit Co.,” he said Oct. 25.
So far, the main season for Mexican fruit has been “good to large in terms of volume,” he said. “Quality has been very good,” but the initial sizing “has been a little bit challenging,” with a lot of medium and small-sized fruit and more limited supplies of “the largest sizes. Basically, I’m talking 40s and larger.”
As a company, McDaniel Fruit is expecting “a very nice-sized crop” of fruit from Mexico. “I think that it will provide a lot of opportunities going forward for the next six months for aggressive retail promotions,” Mr. McDaniel said. That should “make our retail partners very happy and should continue to help drive the avocado category in its growth.”
The avocado category “has become extremely important to the produce department for most retail partners of ours, and we see no reason why this coming season shouldn’t provide a lot of opportunities for good promotions of good-quality product” that will make customers “very satisfied,” he said. “We should move a lot of avocados.”
McDaniel Fruit “has some good proprietary promotions that are being set in place with retailers,” Mr. McDaniel said. In addition, “of course we are in full support of all of the industry programs that are being put together” by the Mexican Hass Avocado Importers Association and the Hass Avocado Board “in those areas where they are operating.” Overall, he expects “a very good season out of Mexico for McDaniel Fruit Company.”
Along with that, Chilean fruit will be competing for market share in the U.S. marketplace over the next few months. Chilean imports have traditionally peaked through January, but with a larger crop this year, and “given the dynamics of their industry, we fully expect that the Chilean industry will push this market for their fruit fairly deep into the month of March,” Mr. McDaniel said.
Both countries are important sources of product for McDaniel Fruit during the fall and winter period.
“My predominant sources during the next six months will be about 50-50 Chilean and Mexico,” Mr. McDaniel said. “It will be pretty close to that. We are very focused on our Chilean programs, but we are also very focused on our Mexican programs, so I fully expect, and our projections show, that we will be probably on the order of half and half,” with some customers preferring the Chilean fruit and others preferring the Mexican fruit.
In late summer, with Peruvian avocados being allowed into the U.S. market for the first time toward the end of the Peruvian season, McDaniel Fruit also handled the Peruvian product. In spite of the late start, “we had a very large and successful Peruvian season for our first season,” Mr. McDaniel said.
Next year, Peruvian avocados will be coming in to the United States for the full season which he expects may begin around late May or early June, after the new California season is under way and while Mexico is still shipping in large volume.
That “will present some unique challenges as we go forward,” he continued. “But that is down the road a ways, and we are working on plans for that.”
It will be something new for McDaniel Fruit Co. and also for the entire U.S. produce industry. “It will be the first time that high-quality Peruvian avocados will be available in the market during that time of year.”
For the 2012 California season, McDaniel’s heaviest volumes will come from the Southern California growing districts. However, “the northern growing districts are very well set for McDaniel also,” he said.
He anticipates an earlier start for the California season in 2012 than in 2011, when the crop size was much smaller.
“We will be starting our Southern California operations probably more in the March time frame this year,” giving more time “to properly move the overall crop.”
McDaniel has “significant holdings of California avocados,” he said, “and our on-tree crop is bigger than last year.” It also appears that sizes will be larger, on average, “even with the heavier crop.”