Calavo Growers, Inc. (Nasdaq-GS: CVGW) today announced the completion of a previously reported expansion of fresh avocado packing operations at its Uruapan, Michoacán, Mexico, facility to keep pace with strong consumer demand in that produce category. The company, a global avocado-industry leader and an expanding provider of value-added fresh food, said that the upgrades provide Calavo’s Uruapan packinghouse with the capacity to pack at least six million pounds of fruit per week, a 200 percent increase over prior output. Translating to about 300 million pounds per annum, the stepped-up production capability in Mexico brings it in line with Calavo’s California packinghouses for a total company capacity of approximately 600 million pounds per year, according to Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer Lee E. Cole. “Consumer demand for fresh avocados continues to grow at a quickening pace,” said Cole, “with per capita consumption heading from four to five pounds annually. In the past decade or so alone, that figure has risen from a mere two pounds.” Cole stated that industry estimates forecast 2013 United States avocado consumption of at least 1.65 billion pounds, an increase of more than 17 percent from the expected 2012 purchases and about 47 percent over 2011 consumption. “With the anticipated uptick in supply and our expanded capacity, Calavo is well positioned to handle this increased volume. Further, the capital investment in Uruapan reflects a new Calavo focus on expanding its market-leading position in the fast-growth fresh avocado segment,” he said. The Uruapan packinghouse became fully operational on August 1 at stepped-up production levels, Cole noted. In addition to increasing the facility’s total square footage by nearly 75 percent, specific enhancements include larger, faster equipment for grading, sizing and packing that is both quiet and safe. The company also installed larger coolers to keep pace with the increased production, improving Calavo’s already strict cold-chain protocols. Those cooling modifications are expected to further fine-tune the company’s market-leading standards of ripening and consumer-bagged avocados for the North American retail and food service markets.