L.A. businesses are expecting a reduced supply and higher prices for avocados ahead of Cinco de Mayo as a result of an off production year.
The projected amount of the fruit coming to market in the United States from all origins for the 18-day period before May 5 is 105 million pounds, down from more than 135 million pounds last year, according to Jan DeLyser, vice president of marketing at the California Avocado Commission, a trade group based in Irvine.
“Last year we had a lot of (avocados) in the marketplace from February through May and had really aggressive pricing,” DeLyser said. “I think the pricing will be less aggressive this year.”
Cinco de Mayo was one of the two biggest consumption events – along with the Super Bowl – for the fruit last year, she said.
Co-Opportunity Market and Deli is selling avocados for $2.29 each, compared with $1.99 this time last year, said Roberto Ramirez, a manager at the Santa Monica grocery store.
“We have avocados, but we have less than last year,” Ramirez said.
The market usually sells 20 to 25 cases of avocados the weekend before the Mexican holiday of Cinco de Mayo, which takes place on a Friday this year, compared with six to seven cases on a typical day, he said. At about 50 avocados a case, that’s a difference of 200 to 275 avocados per day.
The drop is the result of a natural occurrence, DeLyser said.
“Avocados are alternate bearing, so when you have a large-size crop one year, you typically have a smaller-size crop the next year,” she said.
In addition, a heat wave that hit California as the trees were flowering last year caused blooms to drop, meaning a loss of potential fruit, she said.
DeLyser said she expects prices to return to last year’s level after the holiday, as more California avocados come to market and imports from Mexico taper off.
California produced about 15 percent of the 2.3 billion pounds of avocados consumed nationwide last year. The state produced 401 million pounds last year, and the commission projects it will produce 200 million pounds in 2017.