(Aug. 15) Freezing temperatures in Chile in July will reduce the country’s 2007-08 avocado volumes by at least a third, according to an estimate by the Santiago-based avocado committee Comite de Paltas de Chile.

Between 33% and 37% of the crop will be lost, according to the Aug. 13 estimate. As a result, Chile expects to export between 230-242 million pounds of hass avocados before the season winds up in February.

U.S. importers expect volume shipments from Chile to begin in mid-September, about a month later than normal. Some importers are expected to lean more heavily on their Mexican suppliers to meet demand this fall and winter.

The Chilean freeze is the second major freeze of 2007 to affect the North American avocado market. A January freeze in California reduced that state’s supplies by about 30% and should bring an early end to the Golden State deal, with volume shipments not expected past August.