Saturday, February 8, 2014

Avocado's Number

Earlier I expressed skepticism about the Hass Avocado Board's estimate that 104 million pounds of Avocados would be consumed around the Super Bowl, an event the Board refers to as the Big Game.

I emailed the Avocado Board asking where the estimate came from.

Their response was, "The 104.2 MM lbs figure is based on projected sales/lbs (in the U.S. from all sources) for the period leading up to the Super Bowl," which I read as marketing-speak for "we have a website; you do the work."  So I did.

Boy, we eat a lot of Avocados.  In 2014, according to the figures compiled by the Hass Avocado Board, 73 million pounds of avocados shipped during the two weeks prior to the Super Bowl and 118 million pounds shipped during the three weeks prior.  (Both of those figures are for a date ending on the actual Sunday of the game).  Both of those figures are up just slightly over 2013.  So depending on how one defines "leading up to" and how long it takes to ripen a purchased avocado (a process you can totally control with your refrigerator and a paper bag -- a future blog entry perhaps) the Board's claim is completely plausible.

It gets better.  It turns out that that huge number of avocados is not all that huge an increase over the weeks prior or following.  It comes out to a little over 4% of annual shipments for the two weeks and a little under 7% for the three weeks.  Straight-line consumption would be 3.8% and 5.7%, of course, but shipments are strongly correlated with the seasons in California and Mexico, which are weighted toward the first half during the year.   So while the Super Bowl is indeed a large occasion for avocado consumption (Cinco de Mayo is bigger in terms of shipments over the same time period but it appears that the Board defines the runup to that holiday as being shorter) it's not like America is a sad, avocado-free zone prior to or after the game.  We enjoy that delicious treat whenever there are some in the stores.  

When one is a skeptic, one must most of all be skeptical of one's self and of one's own skepticism.  In this case I vastly underestimated just how much tonnage of avocado the US imports from Mexico Chile and thus disbelieved the Hass Avocado Board's figures. 

The avocado number is 1.04 * 10^8.


  1. I, too, as you know expressed disbelief over that number - although I think the claim was those 104 million pounds were actually consumed on the day of the superbowl itself. I guess those guys weren't entirely wrong. That number just boggles though. It wasn't but a dozen years ago the avocado - at least here in the small-city Midwest - was considered "exotic" produce. Much like the now ubiquitous kiwi.

    Quite a piece of legwork there, Greg.

    1. It is pretty amazing. Their infographic shows that only 8 million pounds in 2000. That's some growth. It kind of makes me wonder what's involved in making an avocado farm. Can you just clear out corn or brushland or whatever and plant the trees? How long to get a tree from seed to producing fruit? Back to teh Googles!

  2. That's very interesting! And now I'm craving guacamole.


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