California avocado shipments are far outpacing last season, primarily because of heavy demand from retailers in early and mid-March amid the coronavirus pandemic.
However, the California Avocado Commission reports loadings have now slowed down in line with retail demand.
Despite retail orders being offset somewhat by the huge drop in foodservice demand, California avocado growers harvested nearly 46.7 million pounds this season through March 22.
This compares to only 5.1 million pounds for the same time last year. Some of this increase is due to a larger crop in 2020, but much is due to strong early-season demand. There has been a lot consumers stocking up and panic-buying, especially with the start of the pandemic, but there have been some expectations of softer retail traffic going into April. This has resulted in many growers to temporarily slow down on harvesting.
Unlike some produce items, mature avocados can remain safely on their trees, providing some harvesting flexibility.