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New facility helps Del Rey Avocado improve its operations

With more storage, ripening rooms, bagging stations and dock space, Fallbrook, CA-based Del Rey Avocado Co. Inc.’s new facility in nearby Vista, CA, has greatly improved the shipper’s avocado operation. But probably the most important thing to its longtime neighbors in the relatively small town of Fallbrook is that huge semi-trucks are no longer lined up in the downtown area waiting to load.

“We have a two-acre parking lot at our new facility. We no longer have to stage trucks in downtown Fallbrook,” said Patrick Lucy, vice president of sales.

Patrick-LucyPatrick LucyThe facility opened in June so this is the first full season that all of its West Coast-destined Mexican avocados are being run through the new plant. Lucy said the additional 43,000 square feet of cold storage and ripening room space has greatly improved the company’s efficiency.

“We have more bagging capability, four more ripening rooms, four more docks and double the office space,” he said.

However, he added that while the office in the new facility is currently housing about 10 people, the corporate headquarters is still in Fallbrook and that’s where the sales and support team are still located. Although Vista is only about 15 miles southwest of those offices, Lucy said most of the staff lives closer to Fallbrook and likes the shorter commute.

He said while the new facility is being used for its Mexican fruit, the Fallbrook plant will continue to pack the company’s California output once that season begins in earnest in February.

Speaking to The Produce News in early November, Lucy said the Mexican avocado season is progressing very smoothly with no supply gaps. “From now through Cinco de Mayo, we should have promotable volume of both conventional and organic fruit,” he said.

He added that after an abundance of smaller-sized fruit from Mexico in September and October, “It appears we are back to a normal size curve with the conventional fruit peaking at 48s to 60s.” The organic fruit, he said, was a little bit smaller, peaking on 60s.

The steady volume of fruit at promotable prices — low $30s for conventional 48s, near $40 for organic 48s — was attracting many promotions at retail and helping to move the crop quickly.

“Avocados From Mexico (U.S. promotional arm of Mexico’s avocado industry) tells us that there are more ads being written in November than ever before,” Lucy said. “These prices offer a lot of good promotional opportunities: four for $5, two for $3, two for $2. We are seeing great retail support.”

Del Rey is a leader on the organic side of the avocado aisle and Lucy emphasized that Mexico has an excellent supply of organic fruit and, barring unforeseen weather events, retailers should have plenty of opportunities for organic promotions for the next seven months. This is a welcome change from most of 2019 when organic avocados were typically priced beyond the levels that allowed for attractive promotions.