Organic avocados remain consumer favorites

From The Packer | 8 March 2022

Overview of organic avocados in the U.S. market, complemented by charts from Agronometrics. Original published on March 04, 2022. 

The popularity of organic avocados doesn’t seem to be fading.

But even as demand continues to increase, the supply of organic avocados out of California has been fairly steady the past few years, said Jan DeLyser, vice president of marketing for the Irvine-based California Avocado Commission.

Production has ranged from 8% to 10% of the total crop, she said.

“It remains a really nice part of the industry, and the premium, especially the last year or two, has been great for those who farm organic,” said Donny Lucy, vice president of procurement and East

Coast sales for Fallbrook, Calif.-based Del Rey Avocado Co. Inc.

The category continues to expand by a couple of percentage points each year, he said.

“It’s definitely been a positive, and we still see room to grow there.”

Del Rey probably is among the top three organic avocado shippers when it comes to market share, he said.

Henry Avocado Corp., Escondido, Calif., has a year-round organic program from California and Mexico, said president Phil Henry.

avocado volumes by origi 5

Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics.
(Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)

About 7% to 8% of the company’s volume is organically grown, he said, and some groves are 100% organic.

The program has expanded over the years.

“Organic demand is still very strong, and the pricing is good,” he said. “There is at least a 10% price premium for organic.”

“We’re seeing continued increase in demand for organic avocados,” said Gahl Crane, sales director for Eco Farms, Temecula, Calif., the avocado division of Vancouver, British Columbia-based Oppy.
“We get great support from retailers and strong promotions on organic, even with pricing higher than conventional,” he said.

He attributes some of that support to consumer demand and what can be “a significant premium.”

Crane couldn’t say for sure what percentage of the company’s volume is organic, but he did say it’s a “significant amount.”

“We’re probably higher than the average for the industry,” he said.

The organic category also continues to grow at Calavo Growers Inc., Santa Paula, Calif.

“We’re making a major effort to increase our organic volume because organic has been so popular,” said Rob Wedin, executive vice president of national fresh sales.

From 5% to 10% of Calavo’s volume is organic.

Some shoppers do all their produce shopping in the organic section of the supermarket, Wedin said.

He added that he’s not sure if or when organic sales will level off.

Henry is convinced that the appeal of organic avocados will continue to increase.

“Based on past history, I don’t see any change in the demand,” he said. “As avocado consumption increases in general, consumption of organic avocados should at least keep up with that.”

Growers tend to like organic avocados, too, because they can get acceptable yields.

Yields of some organic commodities can plummet by 50% compared to their conventional counterparts.

Eco Farms grows some organic avocados itself and packs organic product for other growers, Crane said.

He, too, thinks the category will continue to grow.

The challenge, he said, is having a consistent supply of organic fruit and having programs for all sizes — not just the popular sizes, such as 48s and 60s.

avocado prices by size a 1

Source: USDA Market News via Agronometrics.
(Agronometrics users can view this chart with live updates here)

For example, he said, smaller fruit often is packed in bags.

“As the bagging trend continues, that’s going to help organic demand,” he said. “Folks see a value in it.”

Organic avocados are mimicking their conventional counterparts in that the harvest has started earlier than usual this year, Lucy said.

But, as with conventional fruit, sizing has been a bit smaller than what retailers and consumers would prefer.

“I would expect volume on California organic avocados to stay pretty light through February and March,” Lucy said, as growers wait to get more size on the trees.

Crane thinks the supply of the organic fruit will increase from all the avocado-producing countries.

“I see that being sustainable and growing,” he said.

Calavo’s Wedin expects to see increases in Mexico, especially in the new Jalisco growing area that will be open soon to shipments to the U.S.

“Jalisco could push the organic envelope a little bit,” he said. 

The News in Charts is a collection of stories from the industry complemented by charts from Agronometrics to help better tell their story.

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