Mexico cultivates 144,000 hectares of avocados, making it the world’s largest supplier. In Mexico, avocado trees produce four blooms, and that, combined with a range of altitude, makes the Mexican season nearly 52 weeks a year.
The elevation ranges from 1600 to 2400 meters, with the majority of fruit from 1900 meters and higher. Fruit at higher altitudes grows slower in the cooler temps. The flowers are named: flor loca (crazy flower, as it’s ripening is uneven), harvested starting in July, then aventajada, cut in September & October, Temporada, cut November to March, and Marcena, cut in March to July. It takes a year for fruit to grow from it’s bloom to harvest. Fruit from more than one flower can be on the tree at the same time. That makes the acopios’ (engineers’) job demanding. These people are the ones who must determine what price they can afford to pay depending on the size and maturity of the fruit, by surveying the orchard.
There are 24 municipalities that are authorized to cut for the United States, each of those has a Huerta, an organization that provides services and materials to growers. The growers are very organized and knowledgeable about prices. When demand is sufficient it is a given that growers will ask for more pesos per kg. This contributes to price volatility. Growers of other crops do negotiate promotional prices to move their crop, blueberries for example. Not the case with avocados, the price is set strictly by supply and demand, like the stock market, though avocados are a delicious fruit, not a financial instrument on a piece of paper.
Since avocados can remain on the tree under normal cultivating conditions, the growers have the luxury of harvesting within a wider timeline. The risk of price instability is borne solely by importers, which makes Mexico as a supply source unique among avocado producing countries. Having solid and accurate supply and demand information is critical in this business. To add to the complexity, it takes experience to sort the signal from the noise.
There are more than 29,000 growers in Mexico farming 42,000 orchards. A fortunate few own 1000 HA while the average may be 5 HA or less.
Those 29,000 organized growers together create a lot of opinions to consider, about the size of the crop, for example. Listening to one side of the supply – demand equation can be very costly. Price drops of 10-20 % occur when an overheated market loses steam, which is not uncommon. We have sold avocados at prices of $22.00 to $85.00 per box and many millions of dollars have been won and lost in the avocado industry.