The Super Bowl is set for this weekend between the Denver Broncos and the Carolina Panthers. While the competition happens on the field, a fight for room on the snack tray continues to heat up. This year, avocados will be pushing for more space. Early estimates put consumption at nearly 140 million pounds, which is 13% higher than a year ago. Although produce from Mexico will account for most of that, some California growers expect their fruit to arrive just in time.
The Del Rey Avocado Company in Fallbrook, California is packing in a hurry. This fruit is headed for stores, hopefully in time for the Super Bowl rush.
“As a company, Del Rey Avocado, we usually pride ourselves at being the first packer into the California market. So, we've started a little earlier than normal because of that demand for California avocados,” says field operations manager Gerardo Huerta.
That’s in the packing house and in the field. Del Rey owns some of its own farms. Teams are already busy scouring the hillsides, picking fruit for market.
“We're doing a size pick - they're picking what we call size 48, or 8 oz. and larger. So, we're select-picking right now, taking the bigger avocados off and leaving the smaller ones behind to develop and grow. We'll come back for those in a few months,” Huerta says.
So far, what's filling bins is high quality.
“Quality-wise, it's looking very good. It's been unusually warm so the oil content and the fruit eating is very good for this time of year,” says Huerta.
The California Avocado Commission forecasts nearly 400 million pounds of California avocados will be harvested in 2016. But right now, it's Mexico that's dominating shipments.
“The last couple of weeks, they've been bringing in over 50 million pounds getting ready for the Super Bowl, and the consumption for the Super Bowl just keeps growing every year. It might seem like a lot of fruit but amazingly it gets consumed,” Huerta says.
That’s good news as Del Rey continues to haul fruit from the hillside.
By focusing on organic production and market timing, the company is finding room for its boxes.
“It has helped us gain access to some clients that that we probably wouldn't sell to because we handle both conventional and organic. So by selling organic avocados, it's opened that door for us to sell the conventional avocados as well,” Huerta says.
So far, prices are holding. That’s encouraging both pickers and packers to keep these California avocados moving from tree to table.
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