CAC Issues Revised 2020 Crop Harvest Projections
As reported in the April 1st GreenSheet, in response to recent market disruptions caused by the coronavirus pandemic the California Avocado Commission (CAC) has evaluated various scenarios of how California fruit harvest could be impacted over the course of the 2020 season. As opposed to providing numerous “what if” scenarios, CAC has decided it would be most useful and relevant to release one revised harvest scenario based on the following assumptions:
- gradual increase in California harvest volumes in April, May and June as society adjusts to the “new normal”
- increased market pressure from imported fruit during June, July and August
- target weekly harvest volumes not to exceed 16 million pounds
As noted, one factor in this scenario assumes a gradual return to the “new normal.” While the new normal has yet to be fully established, every indication is that even with safer-at-home measures being lifted, a return to normal will happen slowly and gradually. This means consumer, retailer and foodservice buying patterns are sure to continue to be impacted in the coming months. Revised harvest projections assume California April harvest volume equal to March (~34 million pounds), with monthly volumes gradually increasing over that baseline as follows: May (+2%), June (+4%), July (+10%) and August (+5%).
With regard to increased import pressure during summer months, discussions with industry stakeholders indicates that fruit that would typically be shipped to the US now, has been held back to more closely match market demand. We are told though that this fruit will come eventually, spreading volume into summer months. A good source of information for total weekly US volume projections is the Hass Avocado Board’s website. The revised scenario pushes more California volume into August, September and even October over what we have seen in recent years. The good news is that we have growing regions in Santa Barbara and San Luis Obispo Counties, that are able to hold fruit until late in the season, potentially maximizing a window of opportunity. Remember the years long ago when California harvest carried over into November and even December; is 2020 the year we see this again?
Lastly, the idea of projecting a targeted weekly harvest volume is with the notion of minimizing market disruption. The revised projections provide over 20 weeks of consistent California supply of at least 10 million pounds or more, helping to provide some sort of consistency in a largely inconsistent world right now. This consistency in supply allows CAC to line up programs with customers to support the California brand. In addition, while we have seen weekly harvest in excess of 16 million pounds in the past, a look at the 4-year average indicates weekly harvest volumes during peak season in the 11 to 14-million-pound range. While we cannot say for certain the exact dynamics that have impacted this 4-year weekly harvest average, there is a good chance that labor availability has, and will continue to impact California’s weekly harvest volumes, which cannot be ignored in the current season.
All this said, the revised crop harvest projections are not an exact science, or written in stone for that matter. Instead, these numbers should be viewed, and used, as a tool to assist growers as they make critical harvest decisions this season. The market dynamics are currently shifting day to day, therefore the Commission strongly encourages that growers maintain close communication with their grove managers and handlers to plan their harvest strategy to ensure orderly supply to market, minimizing market volatility. In addition to these revised projections, CAC is currently conducting the annual mid-season grower crop estimating survey and will continue to revise and refine volume and harvest projections as necessary.