Henry Avocado supplies growing customer base in record numbers
Despite domestic shortage from the drought condition in California and Chile, the steady rise in avocado production from Mexico has allowed Henry Avocado to supply its growing customer base in record number, according to a company press release.
Based on the projections Phil Henry has received from his certified growers in Michoacan, imports will increase from the approximately1.2 billion-pound levels of last year, to 1.4 million pounds during 2015. As recently as 2007, avocados from Mexico weighed in at 970 million pounds.
The dramatic growth is particularly good news for a year-round distributor like Henry whose CustomRipe program has parlayed this robust supply to expand its customer order by 10 percent.
The increase is impressive considering the recently completed California harvest decline 40 percent from 500 million pounds in 2013, to 300 million in 2014, which caused a higher price point for the retailer.
Henry has seen its distribution center in San Antonio, TX thrive thanks to its proximity to the sources in Mexico. Last year Henry shipped 30 percent more cartons from this Texas facility than at any point in its five-year history.
San Diego County is ideal for its California groves, and farm management operation, but lacked the proximity required for ensuring the freshness and quality of its avocados from Mexico and increasing market share in the Southwest and beyond.
To demonstrate its commitment to acquiring and marketing only the finest avocado imports from Mexico, Henry engaged Jon Ullrich, a sixth-generation Texan whose family has sold produce in Texas for over 60 years, to open and operate a distribution facility in San Antonio, TX in 2009.
Like the four Henry distribution centers in California and Arizona, the San Antonio facility is PrimusLabs-certified, has a refrigerated loading dock and modern cold-storage rooms. Its 12 forced-air ripening rooms give Henry a total of 65 in three states, enabling it to deliver customer orders exactly as specified throughout its marketing regions.
The Texas operation, located within ten minutes of the 10 and 35 freeways, allows for efficient loading and departures throughout the state and to Midwest markets by a fleet of modern tractor refrigerated trailers.
The Texas locale has facilitated Ullrich’s role in securing relationships with Henry’s certified growers and packers in Michoacan, Mexico, each year. Additional quality control measures are also required by Henry to meet the quality and freshness standards of its Bravocado and Green Goddess labels.
“Our focus,” Ullrich said in the release, “is on providing value to ensure fruit with the best appearance and longest shelf life, whether the order is for hard, custom-ripened or bagged avocados.”
Founded in 1925, Henry specializes in custom-ripened fresh avocados that are sourced from its own orchards and those from growing partners in California, Peru and Chile, as well as Mexico.
Now in the midst of an 8-year drought, however, Chile will see its exports decline again after a significant drop in volume to U.S. markets last year.
Next year’s California crop will have a modest growth from 300 million pounds to 350, making Henry’s year-round imports from Mexico again critical to product availability and therefore price stability. “Our relationship with Mexico dates back to the 1950s,” Henry said. “It’s comforting to know when California’s season ends our growers in Mexico have a mature crop ready, and that quality is not an issue.”
Also reassuring is that the growers from Mexico are playing a key role on the demand side as well as supply. Henry said that the “Avocados from Mexico” trade association will increase its marketing budget for the United States from $3.5 million on promotions from July1, 2014 through June 20, 2015 to more than $40 million.
Consumer media coverage of the nutritional benefits of avocados is also contributing. From retail to foodservice at all levels, the fruit’s popularity in meal planning is visible and compelling.
Henry Avocado’s California Harvest To Peak at Ideal Time
ESCONDIDO, CA –April 7, 2014 — For year-round avocado distributor Phil Henry, there’s little distinction between the oncoming domestic harvest and the winding down of the offshore supply. His commitment to consistently provide customers with superior quality fresh avocados and great service is never seasonal. It’s the perennial purpose of Henry Avocado.
Whether the California crop is 515 million pounds, as it was last year, or the approximately 300 million pounds forecast for 2014, the company will always be importing high-quality fruit from its handpicked growers in Mexico, Chile and Peru over the summer as needed. Only the numbers will change to meet its foodservice and retail customer requirements for promotable volume.
In fact, no part of the company’s avocado distribution chain takes a season off. Good farming practices, which Henry strictly adheres to with the 2,400 acres under its California farm management program, is a year-round commitment to assure the California harvest will peak as the supply from Chile and Mexico subside.
Those same practices impact volume as well as timing. While the state will experience a 40% decline in production, Henry’s numbers should only be down 20% from last year’s record yield. Also on the positive side, the size of California avocados will be a little better. Henry anticipates more availability of 40s, 48s and 60s.
California’s 2014 dip in volume is only partially due to the pervasive drought conditions, now in their third year. There’s also the natural yield fluctuation that occurs on alternate bearing years, which is an oddity unique to avocado trees, according to the California Avocado Commission.
Phil Henry is confident the only negative impact of the state’s lower yield will be higher prices, which will be similar to those in 2011. “There will be sufficient fruit to meet our customers’ demand,” Henry advised.
Consumers looking to neutralize the higher price may turn to bags of avocados, which could bring a boost to retailers’ with those items in abundant supply.
Henry Avocado, which pioneered pre-ripening in 1982, now sells over 75% of its orders in some requested state of readiness. To accommodate growing demand for custom ripening in the southwest, Henry added 12 forced-air ripening rooms at its Northern California distribution facility in 2013.
This year the company has a net gain of 11 ripening rooms after replacing several aging units with modern additions. It gives the grower-distributor a total of 65 in three states.
New marketing programs are also available that will keep the summer crop in demand as well as sustain sales momentum beyond Labor Day. Henry cites the efforts of the California Avocado Commission for its new usage initiatives, like this year’s breakfast items, which first appear in foodservice outlets and later become a favorite recipe in consumers’ homes.
Henry’s one-page CustomRipe Ordering Guide, a marketing aid and fixture in the industry for well over a decade, continues to be available through the company’s sales offices in Fullerton, CA and San Antonio, TX. It has helped inform a new generation of buyers by detailing five separate and distinct stages of ripening that can be ordered. Such precise custom ripened deliveries are a proven method to reduce retail shrinkage and increase impulse sales.
In addition to its center in Northern California, Henry Avocado has sales and distribution facilities operating year round from its Escondido headquarters and in Texas and Arizona. All offer bagging options to meet local and regional customer requirements.