Florida Ranks Second Only to California in Avocado Production
by TERESA SCHIFFER
Sponsored by Farm Credit of Central Florida
Avocados are a funny fruit – technically classified as a type of berry, but more commonly considered a vegetable of high esteem due to their versatility and marvelous nutritional profile. Florida was the first state in the U.S. to begin cultivating avocados when they crossed the border from Central and South America through Mexico in the 1800s. Now they generate roughly $54 million in annual economic activity for the state.
Current Projections for Florida Avocados
Florida now ranks second only to California in U.S. avocado production, with cultivation being primarily concentrated in the southern counties of the state. The vast majority of Florida’s 315 avocado growers operate in Miami-Dade County, with isolated farms scattered throughout the state making up the remainder of growers.
According to the Agricultural Marketing Resource Center, total U.S. production of avocados in 2020 was 206,610 tons, valued at $426 million. Florida produced about 13 percent of those avocados.
The USDA is expecting the 2022-23 crop yield to be lower than last year’s for Florida avocados, spurring the Agricultural Marketing Service branch of the USDA to increase the assessment rate on avocados from $0.45 to $0.50 per 55-pound container of the fruit.
They reported in April of this year that the utilized production of Florida avocados for the 2020-21 season was equivalent to 624,364 55-pound containers, valued at more than $13,717,277, or $21.97 per 55-pound container for the grower. Handlers were able to get an average terminal market price of $83.60 for each 55-pound container or equivalent that season.
For the 2022-23 season, the USDA projects an estimated 500,000 55-pound containers of avocados will come out of Florida, which is down from the approximately 800,000 55-pound containers that are estimated to have been produced in the preceding season. They expect growers to be able to command about $22.50 per 55-pound container or equivalent of avocados as the current year’s crop goes to market, so the proposed assessment rate of $0.50 per 55-pound container represents a mere 2.2 percent of the average projected grower price.
Have You Heard of the SlimCado?
You may have seen the “SlimCado” avocado in your local grocery store and wondered about its origin. Is it genetically modified? Is it an exotic import? The answer is “no” on both counts. These are the avocados grown right here in Florida! “SlimCado” is a brand name registered by one grower in particular because they have a lower fat and calorie content than the smaller Hass avocados that come from California.
Florida avocados are much larger than those Hass fruits coming over from the West Coast, and they have a smoother, brighter, and greener skin than the Hass. Their flavor is milder, but the flesh is firmer, making the Florida avocados ideal for slicing or dicing and using on sandwiches and salads. Nutritionally, the avocados grown here in Florida have all the same great vitamins, fiber, and protein that people love avocados for, but with a third of the calories of the Hass variety.
Peak avocado season in Florida is July through September, so now is the perfect time to pick up an avocado for back-to-school snacking!