Sourcing of avocados in the U.S. market this fall through mid-spring will come mostly from imports. California’s 2009/10 avocado season has ended and harvest for the 2010/11 marketing season resumes in the spring. Until then, Mexican avocados will be dominating the domestic market for this product, specifically the Hass avocado variety.

Other avocado-producing states — Florida and Hawaii — generally produce varieties other than the Hass and their production volumes are relatively small. Mexico is the No.1 source for imported avocados in the United States, shipping year round almost three-quarters of total import volume in the United States in recent years. Chile, once the largest supplier to the United States, now account for almost a one-third share of total import volume, shipping from June through April.

As of this summer, avocado imports in the United States had dropped, reflecting lower shipments from both Mexico and Chile. Represented by relatively smaller volumes, shipments from the Dominican Republic also had fallen while Peru had made inroads in this market. Total July-September import volume declined 56 percent from those of the same period a year ago. Imports from Mexico during this 3-month period declined 20 percent, influenced heavily by an abundance of medium-size avocados from California and partly by lower-than-expected production in Mexico.

Harvested this spring and summer, the 2009/10 California avocado crop ranked the second-largest over the past decade, totaling 245,000 tons. Last season’s crop was the fourth largest in the history of California avocado production. The all-time high of 300,000 tons was harvested during the 2005/06 season. Just coming off a huge crop last season, production in California could potentially be reduced for the 2010/11 season.

According to the Avocado Producers and Exporting Packers Association of Michoacan, summer production in Mexico (which matured from the first of four bloom sets for the year) was below average. Unfavorable weather over the winter had an impact on the blooms and although production in Mexico is expected to increase during the fall and into the winter months, overall supplies could be down from last season.

Chilean avocado shipments to the United States also have been down since this summer, with the volume from July through September falling by as much as 91 percent from those of the same time a year ago. Limited supplies in Chile will continue to hamper U.S. imports of Chilean avocados for the remaining months of that country’s 2010/11 shipping season. The Chilean Avocado Importers Association has cited cold weather during the growing season, an “off-year” in the alternate-bearing cycle of the crop, and currency exchange rates that are pointing to Europe as a more attractive market outlet for Chilean avocado exports as contributing to the Chile’s lower shipments to the United States this season.

With avocado consumption in the United States reaching an estimated over 4.0 pounds per person for the first time in 2009/10 and still expected to continue to grow, tighter supplies for this season will likely result in higher 2010/11 avocado prices.

AMS data report that in October, avocado retail advertised prices in the United States averaged $1.11 each, up 2 percent from the average in October 2009. As of early November, prices continued even much higher than last season, increasing by as much as 15 percent.