Avocado shipments to U.S. markets have been anything but normal this season for a number of reasons. And the bottom line there have been fewer of them.
You may have noticed significantly higher retail prices for avocados and there are reasons why, even though there has been around 63 million pounds being shipping weekly in the U.S.
During the week of April 25, distributors were quoting $75 for a carton of 48-size avocados from Mexico FOB Laredo, TX, which is the crossing point for most of Mexico’s production.
During the week ending April 24, the 62.9 million pounds packed and shipped during the week was the second-largest week of the calendar year, only exceeded by the first week of March when 63.8 million pounds were moved. Looking at total volume for the year compared to 2021 shows through April in 2021, U.S. shipments of avocados topped 967 million pounds. This year, only a little more than 800 million pounds have made it to market in that time frame, a 17 percent drop in volume.
The market price for avocados has been very strong since January, but it received an unintended bump from the USDA in mid-February and has been steadily climbing ever since. During Super Bowl weekend (Feb. 12-13), shipments from Mexico were suspended because of a threat to a USDA inspector who was conducting inspections in a Michoacan packingshed. The week-long suspension impacted shipments for two weeks with Mexico only sending about 40 million pounds to the U.S. market during that period, which was only about 40 percent of what typically would have been shipped.
The high volume 63.8-million-pound week occurred after shipments were once again allowed, but the shortage created heavy demand and prices started rising. In March, it was mostly in the $50s for the largest size while in early April, the FOB was in the $60s. Easter week always results in a significant drop in supplies from Mexico as that heavily Catholic country observes several holy days with no work. During the week ending April 17, Mexico only sent 21.7 million pounds to the United States, its lowest week of the year except for the suspension week.
Projections on volume reveal the market may stay right where it is through May and possibly well into June. This is when Peru starts to move into volume shipments to the U.S. market. The Hass Avocado Board projects, U.S. weekly volume of 50-55 million pounds in each week of May.
In May, Mexico’s volume is expected to decline from about 40 million pounds the first week of the month to about a 30-million-pound pace by the end of the month. California’s volume is expected to increase from an average of less than 9 million pounds per week in April to 13 million pounds a week in May. The current projection calls for Peru’s volume to hit close to 5 million pounds per week at the end of May before ascending to double-digit weekly volumes in June and reaching for 18-19 million pounds on a weekly basis in mid- to late July.
Peruvian avocado exporters are predicting more than 230 million pounds will come to the U.S. market this season, mostly from mid-June through August, but continuing into October.
Del Rey Packing Co. of Fallbrook, CA, is anticipating Peru might get started earlier with volume shipments to the United States because of the very strong market.