(Oct. 4) A glut of avocados has weakened markets, but grower-shippers and importers expect prices to stabilize as California supplies taper off and imports from Mexico and Chile assume the lion’s share of the deal.

“Right now you have three growing areas competing at the same time, and it has created a little bit of weakness in the market,” Ross Wileman, vice president of sales and marketing for Mission Produce Inc., Oxnard, Calif., said Oct. 2.

On Oct. 3, the U.S. Department of Agriculture reported prices of $20.25-22.25 for two-layer trays of hass 36s from Mexico, down from $28.25-30.25 last year at the same time.

Demand was low for most of September, said Rob Wedin, vice president of sales and marketing for Calavo Growers Inc., Santa Paula, Calif., which began its Mexico deal in September. Through most of the month, the company doubled its imports every week as California volumes declined, he said. By Oct. 2, 95% of California’s product had shipped, he said.

Until Mexico avocados are allowed in California, in February, Chile will supply the West Coast with Calavo’s import product, Wedin said.

RESTRAINT

Restraint by exporters, combined with declining volumes from California, should improve markets over the next several weeks, Wileman said.

“I anticipate that as California finishes, we should get into a more normal flow pattern,” he said.

Wedin agreed. Chilean exporters, for instance, learned their lesson when they tried to capitalize on strong markets late in the summer, only to see prices fall during the three-week boat trip.

“Chile has slowed its boats down, and growers in Mexico are taking strong stands on controlling prices and volumes,” he said. “Markets should stabilize as California continues to produce lower volumes.”

NO GLUT

Dana Thomas, president of Index Fresh Inc., Bloomington, Calif., said a large Chilean crop will yield promotable supplies of import fruit until at least Feb. 1, Thomas said. But restraint by growers should prevent a glut and weak pricing.

“Markets should be stable from mid-October through the end of January,” he predicted. “There should be consistent, sustainable volumes at reasonable prices for retailers, foodservice customers and growers.”