There has been a lot of talk and worry over the decline of the California avocado market due to foreign imports from Mexico, Chile, Peru, etc.   Yes, we are always concerned that supply will exceed demand, and the opening up of this free trade has narrowed the California harvest and picking "window"... we start up when the other guys are winding down.  

But, never the less, the demand for good quality Haas (Hass) avocados is strong, and appears to be increasing greatly year over year.   The California Avocado Commission has done a tremendous job developing and expanding the market for avocado consumption in the USA.  Most, if not all, of avocados grown in the USA (and by that, I mean mostly California and a bit from Florida) are consumed here in the USA as well!  (GO USA!!!).   The consumption of avocados is still primarily on the coasts and Southwestern states, but huge inroads have been made in the middle of the country. Avocados are so incredibly healthy and tasty, that they have become cornerstones of good eating habits.  They are so picturesque that many articles on diet, nutrition and health now feature a beautifully sliced avocado.   Consumption is increasing not only in the USA, but worldwide. 

The California grower complaints that the foriegners were piggybacking on our marketing dollars (the CAC gets a small percentage of every dollar), that the Haas Avocado Board was formed.  The imports are now also contributing (via a mandatory marketing assessment) thier share to the marketing and advertising efforts being made. 

This is good, since international trade is here to stay and we focus on worrying about the bugs that these imports bring in instead of what the heck to do with all that guacamole!   It does seem that the consumption just goes up up up.   The growing Hispanic population and the inclusion of avocado value added products also helps.  Now, at Costco, you can get premade guacamole in the refridgerated section... ready to eat.   It used to be that there was some sort of sickly green guacamole colored dip right next to the potato chips and Velveeta cheese food product (no wonder consumption was down... I think it was secretly made of Solyent Green!!).  Nowadays there's real live avocado in the dip and it sure tastes good! 

Just for some round numbers-- the California average production is about 6500 pounds per acre.   This is, of course, means that some growers are getting more, some less.   Any well managed grove should find this number achievable-- our personal average is upwards of 16000 pounds an acre, with years that have hit 20-22,000 pounds per acre.  

So if you would like to give me a call about avocado growing, or just to find out some information about running a farm or buying a grove, Call me.  Jill Pettigrew 760/468-1144  I'm here to help.

So, the gist of it is that, if things keep up like this, you won't have a lick of trouble selling your avocados to the packing house.   You may want to shop around to find a packing house that you like, here are a few names:

Mission Produce
Harvest Time
Del Rey Avocados
Sierra Pacific

You can call around and ask for the current market quotes or the services that they offer.  They will bring you the bins on the days you are picking, and then, when your bins are full, they'll come in the afternoon and pick them up.  The avocados are then brought to the packing house for sorting, cleaning, packaging and shipment.   Your bins will be numbered and weighed, then your fruit will head down the conveyor belt where it will be sorted under the expert eyes of the packing house people.   There will Number 1, Number 2, (in some packing houses, a Number 3, as well) and culls.   and then each size will be weighed.   You obviously want big avocados with no blemishes.  They're worth the most.   However, you'd be surprised at how ugly a piece of fruit can look and still be a Number 2.   The market prices will be paid accordingly... you'll get a "pack out report" of your pick and then eventually a check will follow. 

If you are growing organic produce, your market prices are usually higher and the demand is different, too.  Or, if you  have some other varieties of avocados besides Haas... such as Zutano, Fuerte, Lamb Haas, etc... then those are all quoted at different market prices than the Haas, usually less.  

Some things that will affect your dollar return besides size,  will include bug damage (thrips make the fruit all brownish and scarred), sunburn (big, brownish purple areas on the fruit), softness (stress prior to picking), rodent damage (yuck!), wind fallen fruit, freeze damaged,  etc.    The avos can get sunburned while sitting in the bin waiting to be picked up, so don't leave them sitting out on a blazing summer afternoon.... you'll be sorry!   If you ever see tree trunks painted white after stumping, that's to keep them from getting sunburned after being suddenly denuded of all their leaves.  The fruit will burn on the tree, too, if a big heavy branch starts to droop down due to the weight of the avocados... they get exposed to new sunlight as the branch droops and can get sunburned, too. 
CTHE Consumption Survey Results:

rEssentially, it's good to know that the market appears to be expanding.   The California Avocado Commission recently published the results of a study on who's eating avocados and why.  It was published in "From The Grove" magazine, Winter 2011

This study was pretty darn interesting...

36% of the people eating avocados are considered "Sophisticated Naturalists" with a heavy focus on the natural, organic and locally grown aspects of the food they eat.  They tend to be community involved and concerned about sustainability.  Average age is 42.  Consumption is frequent... several times a week avocados are on the menu.  Avocados are considered a staple food in these homes.  They are more likely to search out and choose a locally grown avocado than one shipped in from out of the country. 

27% are cooking aficianados... people who use the kitchen and thier culinary skills as a creative outlet.  These are mostly female, and also average age of 42.  They prepare most meals in the home, watch cooking shows, and are most likely to hunt out recipes.  They also serve avocados several times weekly. 

20% are professionals who are focused on their careers.  The decisions they make are more about self (looking good) than concern for the community or the enviornment.  This is a male skewed population, mostly professional and high income.  They eat out frequently, and are least likely to prepare foods at home.   They add avocado to thier diet mostly because of the healthy benefits in relation to looking good and being attractive. 

17% consume avocados because this is part of their traditional diet.  They are family oriented and least health focused.  They have larger families and less education.   Most are living in Texas or other areas ot the Southwest.   They view avocados as a traditional part of Mexican food dishes or south western food.  Cost might be an inhibiting factor to more frequent purchase.

The study further explains that the bigger focus on health is a change from previous consumption data.   The surveyors feel that this is a result of the large, aging baby boomer population-- who want to stay healthy, fit and youthful.  

The average household purchases 78 avocados per year... this up from 60 avocados the year before.   This is an increase of 29%!!!!   I think it is very impressive that the marketing has opened up so many new markets.   If the mid-west starts heavy avocado consumption, that will be terrific for supply and demand balances.  We've got to stay agressive to market all the fruit that is produced in the US and also in Chile, Mexico and Peru for the US market.
Jill Pettigrew REALTOR 760/468-1144
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