12/21/2012

Ample Avocado Supplies Likely To Repeat in 2012/13

Despite a larger than average crop in 2011/12, initial indications from industry  sources suggest California avocado production will be another big one in 2012/13. While there will be fruit on the trees this fall, harvest will not take off until the spring, reaching peak volumes over the summer. Therefore, given that the 2011/12 harvest in California ended in late October, domestic demand during the remainder of this fall and winter will be fulfilled mainly by imports.

With Mexico’s growing presence in the U.S. avocado market, Chilean market share has declined significantly in the past 5 to 7 years. Since 2007, about two-tenths of all avocados exported to the United States have come from Chile each year.

Chilean avocado producers have broadened their market instead in Europe and South America. According to industry sources, Chile’s exports to the United States are likely to be reduced in 2012/13, influenced by drought conditions there during the growing season and by more favorable exchange rates in Europe. AMS shipment data indicate new-season shipments from Chile began arriving in the United States in early September and by late November, season-to-date volumes were down nearly 80 percent from the same period a year ago. Meanwhile, the Avocado Producers and Exporting Packers Association of Michoacan (APEAM), Mexico, indicated a bumper harvest for the 2012/13 season, with exports to the United States projected up by 20 percent in volume from last season. Mexico’s large off-bloom crop in 2011/12 provided ample late-season supplies to the U.S. market which coincided with plentiful supplies from California’s larger than average crop last season. These occurrences allowed growers in Mexico to hold off harvesting  of early fruit from the new crop until around early October. Both the quality and fruit size of Mexico’s 2012/13 crop improved as a result because fruit were allowed to stay longer on the trees.

Avocado demand in the United States continues on a rising path with ERS initial  2011/12 estimates for fresh avocado per capita use at a record-high 4.6 pounds, up from 4.1 in 2010/11 and more than double the 2000/01 estimate. At this current estimate, fresh avocado domestic per-capita demand has surpassed demand for fresh pears, matched that for fresh peaches (including nectarines), and is closing in onthat for fresh grapes, three more traditionally produced and consumed fruits in the United States.

ERS preliminary estimates show overall avocado supplies in the United States during the 2011/12 season at a record 1.5 billion pounds, up 14 percent from the previous season. Domestic production in 2011 increased 21 percent from the previous year, reaching 442 million pounds (includes California, Florida, and Hawaii) and, imports are projected to total a record 1.05 billion pounds, up 14 percent. Cumulative imports through October show volumes up 34 percent from Mexico, which accounts for over 80 percent of total year-to-date imports, while volumes from Chile are down 42 percent. A large jump in imports is also reported from Peru, with year-to-date volume up 74 percent. Peruvian imports make up 4 percent of the total to date and have already reached half the level of imports from Chile, the second largest source for U.S. avocado imports.

Barring any weather abnormalities, this year’s ample supplies in California and Mexico will likely enable retailers to aggressively promote avocados in 2012/13, likely putting downward pressure on avocado prices. Based on AMS data, free-onboard (f.o.b.) shipping-point prices for South District California Hass avocados, all sizes except 84s, averaged around $25-$26 per 2-layer carton in October. There were no prices quoted for California Hass in October 2011 as the smaller harvest resulted in an earlier finish to the 2010/11 season. F.o.b. price quotes for Mexican Hass avocados (all sizes except 84s) this October ranged from $20-$22 per two layer carton, compared with $28-$30 last year. Priced relatively lower than other fruit size, in general, in October, smallest sized avocados (size 84s) ranged from $19-$20 per 2-layer carton for South District California Hass and $18-$19 for Mexican Hass. As of early November, Chilean Hass f.o.b. prices ranged from $20- $23 per 2-layer carton (size 60s and 70s) and Mexican  ass at $19-$20 (all sizes, except 84s which were slightly lower). Same time last year, prices averaged higher at $26-$27 and $28-$29, respectively.

**Source: ERS/USDA