Falling avocado markets were expected to begin stabilizing by early October, importers and officials said.

Avocado market poised to level off

Courtesy APEAM

After falling in late September, avocado prices were expected to stabilize in early October, importers and officials said.

Through Sept. 26, Mexico had shipped about 84 million pounds of avocados to the U.S., down from 103 million pounds last season, said Emiliano Escobedo, Los Angeles-based marketing director for the Association of Producers, Packers and Exporters of Avocados from Michoacán (APEAM).

A glut of medium-sized product on the U.S. market is one reason, Escobedo said. Another is harvest delays caused by excessive rains in Michoacán.

“We’ve been up and down, week by week, filling the gaps for California,” he said. “And the weather is the rainiest we’ve had in several years.”

With California winding down in late September and early October, Mexican volumes would begin increasing significantly week to week, Escobedo said.

“We’re ready to go,” he said.

By season’s end, Escobedo expects overall volumes to be similar to last season’s total of 600 million pounds.

Demand was high and markets strong throughout August and leading up to Labor Day, but by the end of September there was a glut of medium-sized fruit in the market, said Bob Lucy, partner in Del Rey Avocado Co. Inc., Fallbrook, Calif.

On Sept. 28, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $28.25-30.25 for two-layer cartons of size 48 avocados from California, down from $49.25-50.25 last year at the same time.

“Prices were 4 or 5 dollars higher than the market wanted to handle,” Lucy said of early September pricing.

Continued big volumes from California, combined with increased volumes from Mexico and Chile, created an oversupply of 48s and 60s the week of Sept. 27, Lucy said. Supplies of smaller and larger fruit, however, were moving more briskly, he said.

The market would likely correct itself — and prices on medium-sized fruit drop as a result — through about Oct. 4, Lucy predicted. After that, markets would likely stabilize and prices rise about two dollars in mid- to late October, he said.

Prices would likely stabilize around the end of September, said Rob Wedin, vice president of sales and marketing for Santa Paula, Calif.-based Calavo Growers Inc., but he was less certain about the prospects for them increasing again in October.

“It might be wishful thinking that prices will go back up,” he said.

With the goal of stabilizing markets, Mexico and Chile were showing restraint in late September, and there was a chance California shippers would spread out some late shipments, Wedin said.

Southern California’s avocado deal would likely wind down the week of Sept. 27, Lucy said. Supplies were expected to be down from Chile this year, and Mexico was doing a good job of reining in supplies to keep the late September glut from getting worse than it was, Lucy said.