Florida's avocado season is gearing up, and though the industry has faced its share of challenges, it expects 2019's volumes to be on par with a typical year, says Brooks Tropicals.
Peter Leifermann, vice president of sales and marketing, elaborates: "Overall acreage is down here – due to development and some grove loss to the Laurel Wilt virus – but our overall industry estimates are comparable with a typical year."
This is a positive change from the previous two years' crops, which suffered damages caused by Hurricane Irma.
"After our 2017 season was cut short by Hurricane Irma, and 2018 was a regenerative year for the trees, we’re happy to be heading into a more normal season, with promotional volume this summer," he comments.
Meanwhile, growing conditions this season have been closer to ideal, he says.
"We had a pretty mild winter, with no real frost scares. But so far it has been a dry spring. And no hurricane in over 18 months!"
He notes that Florida avocados are seeing some harvesting delays, though. Growers were only able to harvest about 25% of early estimates last week.
Still, he says: "We should be on track within 10 days".
According to Leifermann, Brooks Tropicals' SlimCado avocado has become both successful and easily recognized by consumers.
"There are many people who only know a tropical, green-skinned avocado as a SlimCado," he comments.
The category's name aims to refer to the Florida avocado's lower caloric and fat content. However, he points out: "SlimCadoes are anything but slim". In fact, "they’re huge compared to anything else out there."
He notes the variety's size sets it apart from another category that has performed well in the market - Hass.
"The average Hass weighs less than ¾ of a pound, while our fruit averages over 1¼ pound per fruit," he explains.
Still, he emphasizes: "We do not necessarily view the Hass variety as always a competitor. The two varieties complement each other, offering consumers the perfect options depending on their needs."
Commenting on market conditions, Leifermann says: "The market has been steady now for about a month due to lower volume from our Dominican groves, but we see promotable volume coming in July."