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How Do We Have Avocados Year-Round?

How Do We Have Avocados Year-Round?

Avocados are a versatile and popular fruit that is now available year-round in many parts of the world.

Year-Round Avocados

 

There are a variety of factors that have led the United States to have avocados year-round. Of course, supply and demand play a big part in any produce item becoming a year-round delicacy.

But for the U.S., growing popularity, paired with the ratification of the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA), allowed for an abundance of fresh avocados to be available year-round, from Florida to New York to Hawaii.

Avocados

What Are Avocados?

While many consider them a vegetable, avocados are a fruit with a dark, leathery outside and a green, creamy interior with a pit at the center. They are considered a “super fruit” by many thanks to their healthy upside despite a high concentration of fat and calories.

This fat, known as monounsaturated fat, is a good fat that helps to lower bad cholesterol. In addition, avocados offer roughly 20 beneficial vitamins and minerals, including potassium, folate, and vitamins C, E, and B6. Their popularity experienced steady growth throughout the early 2000s before seeing their demand skyrocket into the mid-2010s.

graph of avocados eaten in the u.s since 2000

Nowadays, avocados are added to a variety of dishes, including, but not limited to, burgers, tacos, salads, various sandwiches, and even soups. Due to this rise to stardom in the fruit world, the U.S., along with many other countries around the globe, have been working day and night over the last decade to ensure they are available in every crisper drawer on the planet.

And while this may sound like a monumental task, it may be safe to say they found the answer. Avocados are currently grown domestically in California, but warm-climate states like Florida and Hawaii have each seen increased production over the last two decades.

How Do We Have Avocados Year-Round?

Avocados have become plentiful for various reasons, but none more important than the passing of NAFTA in 1994. NAFTA, now known as the United States-Mexico-Canada Agreement (USMCA), allowed for increased importing and exporting between neighboring North American countries.

Because of this, the U.S. has been afforded the opportunity to tap into Mexico’s abundance of the green buttery fruit year-round. Before this, California was slammed with trying to keep up production of the highly sought-after produce.

In California, the season runs from March through September, with peak months ranging from April through August. In California, trees bloom once and produce fruit just twice a year, compared to Michoacán, Mexico, where trees bloom and produce up to four times a year.

Peak season in Mexico is from October to February, but production continues throughout the year. Because of this, the U.S. is able to acquire and satisfy the increased demand for avocados year-round.

Harvesting and Packaging Avocados Year-Round

Avocados are a very unique fruit. They are in a scarce group of fruits that do not ripen while on the tree. Joining bananas in this unusual club, they are harvested while they are unripe, meaning they will be firm and will not be ready to be consumed just yet.

They grow alongside other fruits that can be weeks and months away from their own harvesting periods, making the picking process a bit more tricky. Avocados are harvested and picked using clippers or special picking poles. Once picked from the tree, they are taken to a designated packing house or staging area, where they will be assessed for quality assurance.

Once transported to the packing house, avocados undergo a cooling phase to remove field heat before entering a long-term cooling chamber. This process is called “hydro cooling.” Once cooled and placed in bins, depending on the packing plant, they will be weighed and sorted for further distribution.

Due to the cooling process, avocados must be kept in a temperature-controlled environment during transport to ensure ripening does not occur before their trip to the supermarket. As with most produce items, experts recommend transporting avocados via reefer trailers. These trailers can provide ideal temperature control throughout the shipping process.

The fruit should remain at 40 degrees Fahrenheit and, in most cases, not exceed 45 degrees Fahrenheit to avoid ripening or softening. Temperatures should also refrain from dipping to 31.5 degrees Fahrenheit to prevent chilling injuries that can lead to skin graying and refusal to ripen following transport.

Tariffs on Avocados

Avocados fall under the Harmonized System Code “Dates, figs, pineapples, avocados, guavas, mangoes, and mangosteens, fresh or dried” category. In 2022, among six-digit HS codes, avocados were 217th (out of 5,832) for U.S. imports and 1,534th for exports. Top import countries include Canada, South Korea, Japan, and Hong Kong. Top exporting countries include Mexico, Peru, Dominican Republic, and Columbia. Countries importing avocados from Mexico could face price hikes towards the end of the year as fertilizer prices and current inflation problems continue to drive prices close to 20-year highs.

Shipping Avocados Year-Round with FreightCenter

Shipping produce can be a delicate process, and there are a variety of essential factors to keep in mind when choosing a freight shipping partner. At FreightCenter, we can help find the best carrier with the lowest rates for all avocado shipments. By contacting one of our freight shipping experts, you can list all needs and requirements for your load before the shipping process. Hashing out the details and labeling your shipment‘s specific guidelines ahead of time will ensure a seamless shipping process for everyone involved. Give us a call at 800.716.7608 or run a free online freight quote today!

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