A California heatwave in 2018 did a “number” on the California avocado crop, which is expecting its smallest volume in a decade. The heat hit some of the state’s key growing regions, and most shipments this season will be limited to the Western states. Meanwhile, there was significant increase in avocado imports last year.
Current estimates are for production of 175 million pounds (79,000 metric tons), which would be 48 percent lower than last year’s 338 million pounds (153,000MT), according to The California Avocado Committee.
There hasn’t been this small of a crop since the 2009 season, when 174.5 million pounds were produced. Between then and the previous season production has fluctuated greatly, ranging from a high of 534.5 million pounds in 2010 to a low of 216 million pounds in 2017.
Two other major players in the global avocado market during the same period – Peru and South Africa – are expected to have back-to-back seasonal declines in production.
There are areas that should have had much better production which were hit hard by heat that went well over 100 degrees, with some areas reaching 116 or 117 degrees for a short period of time.
Adding to the problem was cold temperatures in the prior months, along with wildfires the previous year.
The duration of the season is set to be shorter than last year, with peak avocado shipments occurring from late March through July, as opposed to last year when volume continued into September.
There was a 15 percent increase in U.S. imported avocado volume during 2018, while crop value plunged 11 percent.
Trade statistics from the USDA indicate the total value of U.S. avocado imports totaled $2.35 billion, down from $2.64 billion in 2017. By volume, U.S. imports of avocados reached 1.04 million metric tons, up 15 percent from 900,200 metric tons in 2017.
The USDA reported Mexico accounted for 87 percent of the total volume and 88 percent of the total value of U.S. avocado imports.
U.S. imports of Mexican avocado grew 17 percent by volume but shrunk 11 percent in value in 2018, according to the USDA.
Peru was the second leading avocado supplier to the U.S., accounting for 8 percent of the value and volume of U.S. imports.
Chile ranked as the third most important avocado supplier, representing 3 percent of both volume and value of U.S. imports.