The Rise and Rise of the Avocado

While industry avocado volume in the U.S. was strong for the first half of 2023, annual avocado supply was up by 20%, driven specifically by a 42% increase in volume from Mexico.

Avocados continue to captivate the market and consumers.

Originally printed in the September 2023 issue of Produce Business.

Today’s avocado market is a far cry from the situation that existed at the turn of the century. Back in 2000-2001, U.S. consumers were eating less than 3 pounds of avocado per person on average per year. How things have changed. According to the USDA, this figure tripled between 2000 and 2021 to 8 pounds per person, signaling the popularity that the fruit has amassed over the past two decades.

Although U.S. growers continue to produce around 400 million pounds of avocados per year, production has slowly declined while imports have risen and foremost among the suppliers is Mexico. In 2020/21, U.S. avocado imports reached a record high of 2.675 billion pounds; Mexico — the world’s leading avocado producer — accounted for 88% of that total between 2019-21. Mexico’s nearest rival, Peru, accounted for 7%.

“Our annual tracking shows that the top two drivers of purchase are consumers believing they are ‘healthy’ and contain ‘good fats,’ followed by taste and texture, so nutrition is a strong purchase driver.”

— Alejandro Gavito, Hass Avocado Board

While industry avocado volume in the U.S. was strong for the first half of 2023, annual avocado supply was up by 20%, driven specifically by a 42% increase in volume from Mexico, according to the Hass Avocado Board.

“According to the reported volume from each country of origin, the actual arrivals in 2023 year to date have increased by 22% compared to 2022,” says the Avocado Board’s Alejandro Gavito. “It is worth noting that the volume in 2022 was lower than that of 2021. As of the week ending on 6/25/23, the volume in 2023 is on par with the volume of 2021 year to date.”


Santa Paula, CA-based Calavo Growers handles avocado imports from several sources, including Mexico, California, Peru and Colombia, and company vice president, Peter Shore, says the last 12 months have seen excellent supplies and steady prices in the marketplace.

“Volumes have been very good coming from Mexico. California is a bit light, and Peru is just arriving into the marketplace,” he says.

Calavo began shipping fruit from its packing house in Jalisco, Mexico, in summer 2022, and Shore says fruit quality and ripening characteristics have been excellent. “We’ve been packing and shipping fruit from Jalisco for several seasons to Asia, Canada and Europe,” he continues.

The company also received Colombian fruit last year, again with very good results and quality.

Meanwhile, one of the biggest in the business, Mission Produce, sold more than 584 million pounds of avocados in 2022, according to senior category manager Jennifer Anazawa who predicts this total will continue to increase. “Our quarterly volume has been up year over year for Q1 and Q2,” she reveals.

And following the authorization of avocados to enter the U.S. from Jalisco in July 2022, available avocado supply into the U.S. market is expected to increase with a greater number of farms achieving certification.

Following the authorization of avocados to enter the U.S. from Jalisco in July 2022, available avocado supply into the U.S. market is expected to increase, with a greater number of farms achieving certification.

In South America, Anazawa says Mission is continuing to strengthen its vertical integration and enhance owned supply by developing additional acreage with in-country partners. In 2022, Mission planted nearly 200,000 new trees in Peru, Guatemala, and Colombia, which are expected to provide additional supply coverage once they mature enough to produce fruit.

In terms of the Mexican offer, more than 2.4 billion pounds of Mexican avocados were imported to the U.S. in 2022, representing a 22% increase over the previous year’s volume, according to Stephanie Bazan from Avocados From Mexico, Irving, TX.

“Hass avocados grow year-round in Michoacán, creating a steady supply of avocados to meet U.S. consumer demand and, with the addition of the state of Jalisco to the import program, we have even more avocados available for U.S. consumers,” she says.

William Watson from the Colombia Avocado Board says the last 12 months have been good for Colombian avocados in the U.S. “More buyers are becoming familiar with our fruit as they expand their resource options,” he says.

Volume has been steadily increasing each month, according to Watson, with 31 million pounds recorded for 11 months up to June 2023. This compares to just 1 million pounds in 2019.

“We believe once consumers taste our product and buyers see how competitive we can be in the market especially on the East Coast, we will continue to see more Colombian avocados in the market,” predicts Watson.


Closer to home, Terry Splane, vice president of marketing for the California Avocado Commission, says supply over the last 12 months has been limited, although customers can continue to rely on excellent quality.

“Last year, California avocado harvesting started somewhat earlier than usual, with more volume in spring than this year,” he says. “Harvesting started later than usual this season due to the rainy weather and market conditions. The volume during June was relatively similar this year compared to 2022.”

Hass variety makes up around 95% of the California avocado crop, according to Splane, with Lamb Hass available later in the season.

Based in Homestead, FL, grower-importer Brooks Tropicals takes a different approach. As well as producing in Florida, the company focuses on off-season imports from the Dominican Republic, which gives it year-round availability.

According to Brooks’ vice president of sales and marketing, Peter Leifermann, the past 12 months have seen continued strong and growing demand for the company’s SlimCado brand tropical avocado. This has been supported, he says, by improvements in insect and fungus control in groves and a focus on maintaining aggressive pricing despite inflationary pressure.

At a Florida level, Leifermann says that although the crop started noticeably lighter than in 2022, volume from August through October is expected to increase significantly. Brooks’ Dominican supply is a key part of the puzzle, and Leifermann says he anticipates exponential growth in the coming years.

“Brooks Tropicals was the first grower/packer/importer/distributor to ‘bridge the gap’ between the end of the Dominican season (typically April) and the beginning of the Florida season (typically late June) with the Beneke variety from the Dominican Republic,” he explains.

“It’s a variety that changes color from green to a dark red/purple — not unlike the Florida Hardee variety or a Hass — and packs the most popular sizes with a smooth taste.”


Consumers purchase avocado for many reasons, according to Alejandro Gavito from the Hass Avocado Board. “Our annual tracking shows that the top two drivers of purchase are consumers believing they are ‘healthy’ and contain ‘good fats,’ followed by taste and texture, so nutrition is a strong purchase driver,” he reveals.

“We see that consumers are looking to food as medicine to manage/improve their health and they are becoming more aware of how their food choices may impact the planet.”

According to Calavo’s Peter Shore, health and indulgence are two of the key trends that have been driving avocado purchases. “Avocados taste great, are full of nutrients, and have good fat and fiber,” he says.

Total avocado consumption continues to increase year over year. There are key times during the year where consumption goes way up, namely Super Bowl, Cinco de Mayo and July Fourth.

At a sales level, Shore says ripe avocados continue to drive purchase decisions, although he admits price is also important, while selling fruit in multiples or bags has been a positive factor at retail.

Brooks’ Peter Leifermann says tropical avocados have also benefited from the health and convenience trends. “In these times, the value and convenience that the consumer finds in an avocado that weighs over 1 pound each has been a great driver for our tropical avocado sales,” he says.

“As always, the more health-conscious people get with regards to their diets, the more they demand our healthy avocados.

But although Brooks offers point of sale materials, Leifermann believes the No. 1 driver at a store level is the fruit itself.

According to Mission’s Jennifer Anazawa, ripe and ready-to-eat are key purchasing factors when it comes to avocados, while sales and good deals are also motivators.

“Avocado shoppers often buy avocados on impulse, so having an effective merchandising strategy can inspire more purchases,” she says. “We provide several value-added services, including a category management program that supports our customers in driving avocado category sales.”

Echoing the anecdotal assessments, Avocados From Mexico’s proprietary shopper journey study found that health benefits were the primary reason consumers gave for purchasing avocados, followed by great taste. “Avocados contain good fats, which was cited as the top health driver in the study,” says Bazan, of Avocados From Mexico.

“Shoppers want the option to purchase avocados that are ready now and avocados that are ready later,” she adds. “Approximately 80% of shoppers think this is an important factor in deciding whether to purchase avocados.”

Splane from the California Avocado Commission also singles out healthy eating as a key trend, pointing out that consumers appreciate the nutritional bandits of avocados. “Shoppers may be cutting back on some purchases due to concerns about the economy, but avocados are an affordable indulgence that enhance every dish,” he says.

“Consumer interest in locally grown products and the distance it takes for goods to get to market benefits both California avocados and the customers who merchandise them and add them to their menus with brand identification.

“We’re very enthusiastic about the retailers and avocado handlers who have chosen to prominently feature the California avocado origin in season,” he adds. “Consumers say they want this prominent call-out to origin and will buy more because of it.”


For Mission Produce, data-driven programs are key to driving avocado consumption at retail. The company, explains Jennifer Anazawa, offers custom ripe programs that allow customers to order avocados at various ripe stages. Mission’s “Ready!” program delivers dual options — ripe and almost ripe — which Anazawa says helps retailers target a wide range of customers with different ripeness preferences. “One of our customers using our ‘Ready!’ program realized double-digit sales growth in the first nine months,” she reveals.

Additionally, Mission’s “Size Minded” program offers two different sizes of bulk avocados, focusing on helping retailers capture shoppers purchasing avocados for almost any occasion.

At a national level, the Hass Avocado Board invests heavily in nutrition research and marketing communications to increase the awareness and improve understanding of avocado’s unique benefits to human health, says the organization’s senior director of marketing, Gina Widjaja.

This work includes studies related to heart health, Type 2 diabetes, healthy living, and weight management and are directed at health professionals. “With our limited budget, we focus our investment on communicating to physicians, nurse practitioners and registered dietitians, especially those with a food as medicine approach,” explains Widjaja.

Avocados From Mexico focuses on a very different target market, with the organization’s fall campaign set to focus once again on football and the relation between snacking and sport. “We know there is a strong association between football and avocados/guacamole, with 50% of shoppers citing that avocados are served or prepared during and in support of football games,” explains Stephanie Bazan.


In the ready-to-eat segment, Rhome TX-based Fresh Innovations, owner of the “Yo Quiero!” brand has seen its guacamole and avocado business really take off over the past 12 months, according to its vice president of marketing Tara Murray.

“Right now, avocado consumption is at an all-time high, and this trend is not slowing down,” she says. “Consumers are looking for different, and creative, ways to use avocados in their daily meals. Avocado toast is huge, driven by Millennials and Gen-Z’ers, which has increased our mashed avocado sales. And with Mexican-inspired dishes becoming more mainstream, consumers are using guacamole on things such as sandwiches, salads, burgers and of course with chips.”

Total avocado consumption, Murray continues, continues to increase year over year, but notes there are key times during the year where consumption goes way up, namely Super Bowl, Cinco de Mayo and July Fourth.

“For Fresh Innovations/Yo Quiero! brands, we offer our retailers deals that allow them to decrease prices during these holidays to encourage trial, usage and multiple purchases,” she says. “These deals benefit the retailer to drive sales, and for the consumers to buy products at reduced prices.”

As a processor, Fresh Innovations sources exclusively from Mexico, and Murray says the addition of Jalisco has helped extend the Mexican season and almost double the country’s yearly export volume to the U.S.

“Our avocado and guacamole products are produced in Mexico because of the proximity to our growers,” she adds. “From there, we ship the product to our distribution facility in Rhome, TX. The main challenge is how to have a more sustainable crop and continue to meet the growing demand for avocados.”