5 Unique Aspects of the Avocado Supply Chain
With trade and border tensions rising, your avocado toast could be in danger! What else goes into finding the perfect avocado? Learn about 5 unique aspects of an avocado’s supply chain here!
1. Demand for avocados has skyrocketed
It may not surprise you to find out that demand for avocados has risen. You have probably enjoyed some avocado toast, added it to a smoothie, or had some guacamole during the Super Bowl (a particularly popular time for avocados). But just how much has the demand increased? According to the USDA, avocado consumption per capital has increased 443% in the last 20 years. The average American eats 7 pounds of avocados per year. Not to mention, there were 4.25 billion avocados consumed by the US in 2014, which is more than double the avo-consumption in 2005.
2. There are many reasons for the demand increase
We could attribute the rise of the avocado to many factors. Most notably, in the late 1990’s import restrictions were lifted on shipments of produce from Mexico (which is where most avocados are grown). Another factor is the increased Hispanic population of the United States. There are nearly 57.5 million individuals of Hispanic descent who live in the United States. Many traditional Hispanic meals feature the green, creamy deliciousness of an avocado. Additionally, there has been a pro-fat movement in the health world – highlighting the health benefits of monounsaturated fat. Finally, major brands such as Starbucks, Subway, Burger King, Panera and more are offering avocado additions. There are many factors that may contribute to the rise of the avocado, but you don’t hear us complaining!
3. The harvesting process is very particular
First, you should know that avocados may mature on the tree – but they will not ripen. This adds many complex issues to the supply chain of an avocado. The amount of time it takes to ripen can vary from days to weeks. This depends on the degree of maturity before they are plucked from the tree, storage temperature, and the variety of avocado (there are many varieties, however, Haas avocados are the most prevalent). Additionally, avocado trees need specific amounts of sun and rainfall to produce perfect avocados. There are only a few places that avocados can grow all year long, one of which is Mexico. Climate can have a major impact on supply, which is apparent in California who lost nearly 75 million pounds of avocados due to a heatwave. Keep in mind – harvesting is only one complicated aspect of the supply chain.
4. The avocado requires a cold chain
It may be surprising to find out that avocados require a cold chain to deliver optimal ripeness at the grocery stores. Although the avocado is rarely sold in the refrigerated section, they typically prefer a container of 1-degree Celsius while en route (by either land, air, or sea). Additionally, avocado supply chain managers must make sure temperatures are not too cold, or else the avocados will shrink! They must also limit the amount of exposure to sunlight, which could cause the avocados to overripen and rot. From farm to fork, moving avocados requires careful attention to transportation and warehousing to keep customers happy and reduce waste.
5. It’s the Goldilocks of fruit (yes, it’s a fruit)
As if the harvesting and transportation needs weren’t complicated enough – consumers are very particular about the avocados they decide to purchase. We have all been there. We walk up to the display of avocados and test their firmness. They can’t be too hard or too soft. They must be just right! Adding ripening facilities to the supply chain is one way avocado suppliers have combatted this delicate balance. Next time we approach a barrel of hard avocados, consider taking one home to ripen in a brown paper bag. You may not have perfect guacamole that night, but you can pay respect to this extremely complicated supply chain!