To provide the California Avocado Commission (CAC) and the growers it serves with a better perspective on the health of the California avocado industry, CAC retained the Tootelian Company to conduct a member survey. Summary findings from the report are now available on the California avocado grower website.
The survey was sent to all CAC members in August 2021. The 77-page report includes detailed findings concerning:
- Farm acreage
- Pounds harvested and crop values by district and acreage
- Overall farm income, expenses and net margin
- Farm income, expenses and net margin by district and acreage
- Water sources
- Overall irrigation costs
- Irrigation costs by water source, district and acreage
- Perceived threats to future profitability
Highlights from the survey are as follows:
- Across all districts, bearing acres comprised about 80% of total acres.
- From 2018 – 2020, the average number of pounds harvested per bearing acre declined at a rate of -2.4% per year.
- During this same time frame, the average crop value per bearing acre rose at a rate of 0.8% per year. When examined by the acreage of the operation, the annual growth rates in crop values per bearing acre (2018-2020) were 6.7% for farms with 10 acres or less, 2.3% for farms with 11 – 50 acres and -1.4% for those with 51 acres or more.
- The three-year average for total expenses as a percent of gross income was 93.7% with an average net margin of 6.3%.
- Average gross income was 2.7% per year with expenses growing at a 4.4% rate annually.
- Respondents indicated they did not change their water sources much from 2018 – 2020 with District 1 and District 2 relying primarily on water agencies, District 4 utilizing mutual water companies and Districts 3 and 5 relying mainly on wells/surface water on the property.
- Overall irrigation costs per dollar of crop value dropped from 18.9% in 2018 to 15.9% in 2020, with irrigation costs as a percent of total expenses dropping from 20.2% in 2018 to 15.3% in 2020.
- The highest average irrigation costs per acre in 2020 were associated with mutual water companies ($1,389/acre) and water agencies ($1,157/acre) and lowest when growers combined well/surface water with water agencies ($698/acre) and wells/surface water with mutual water companies ($555/acre).
- Respondents indicated the most serious threats to future profitability are water costs, costs of complying with government regulations and labor costs.
- Other factors identified as threats to profitability included availability of water, imported avocados and environmental regulations.
Findings from the survey will be used to help the Commission explore potential opportunities to address growers’ most pressing challenges.