Marketers of Mexican avocados note that sales of their products continue to rise. Organics, they say, are keeping up.
According to data from the Nielsen Corp., organics accounted for roughly 5% of retail avocado sales as of Aug. 30.
For Mexican avocados, organics comprise about 2% of overall volume sales in the U.S., according to Maggie Bezart Hall, vice president of retail with Irving, Texas-based marketing group Avocados From Mexico Inc.
Bezart Hall said Mexico represents the largest supply of organic avocados imported into the U.S.
Officals at Giumarra Agricom, Escondido, Calif., said it’s one of the largest suppliers of organic avocados in the U.S.
“So, we are very excited to see that organic avocado consumption continues to grow across the country,” said Gary Caloroso, marketing director with Giumarra Agricom & Giumarra Borquez. “Mexico plays a big role in that for us, as we source organic avocados from them year-round.”
That growth is part of a larger trend in organics, said James Milne, executive category director for avocados with Vancouver, British Columbia-based The Oppenheimer Group.
“Demand for organics is growing across the produce department, and avocados are no exception,” he said, noting that Oppenheimer is introducing its first-ever organic Mexican avocado program over the coming months.
The 2008-09 global recession was supposed to affect the organic category, but its effects on organic avocado sales were relatively minimal, said Robert Schueller, director of public relations for Los Angeles-based World Variety Produce Inc., which markets product under the Melissa’s brand.
“Although the recession has certainly impacted the mind of the organic buyer, we see overall demand and growth for organics to continue its growth annually,” Schueller said.
The industry will have plentiful supplies to meet growing demand, he said.
Santa Paula, Calif.-based Calavo Growers Inc. saw its Mexican organic avocado sales grow by 55% last year — on a crop that did not increase overall volume, said Rob Wedin, vice president of sales and marketing.
“To me, if you go back three years ago, the places you had organic was your main health stores and retailers — Whole Foods, obviously, was a leader in that group. Now, a lot of your regular mainstream retailers also have organic sections and organic food continues to increase in popularity and avocados kind of caught on late but have caught onto that trend, “Wedin said.
Calavo shipped more than 650,000 boxes of organic avocados in 2013-14, and Wedin said he expects that number to increase by at least 25% in the upcoming season.
“We’re going to get up to 800,000 or more someday and, not far from now, we’ll be up to 2 million boxes,” he said.
Phil Henry, president of Escondido-based Henry Avocado Corp., said sales of organic avocados are healthy.
“It keeps growing, both supply and demand,” Henry said. “Demand stays strong, so we’re seeing a continued price differential between organic and conventional. There doesn’t seem to be any change in that trend, because demand continues to grow.”
Mexico has the most consistent supplies of organic avocados, said Dave Fausset, salesman and category manager for Oxnard, Calif.-based Mission Produce Inc.
“I’d say organic pricing is still doing well, maintaining the low $40s per box,” he said. “I’d say Mexico will continue to be heavily leaned upon for that demand.