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Wednesday, July 17, 2024

Henry Avocado expands Charlotte distribution center

A Charlotte facility that can distribute hundreds of thousands of avocados daily has completed an expansion of its cold storage, allowing it to extend its East Coast operations.

Henry Avocado, based in Escondido, California, distributes avocados to restaurants, food distributors and grocery stores.  

In 2017, Charlotte-based A M King converted an existing 25,000-square-foot leased warehouse space about three miles from the Charlotte airport into a cold storage distribution center for Henry Avocado. It was designed with a refrigeration system that allowed for future expansion.

“We are excited to build on the success Henry Avocado Corp. has achieved in this first-class Charlotte distribution center,” says J.D. Boone, A M King business unit leader, in a release. “There was a high level of coordination needed to understand and properly implement the client’s custom ripening process.”

Henry Avocado is a year-round marketer and distributor of avocados sourced from California, Mexico, Peru and Chile. The company has three other distribution centers in California, two in San Antonio and one each in Houston and Phoenix. The original Henry farm in San Diego County has been in continuous avocado production since 1925. It grows and promotes the Hass variety and has organic avocados in its product line.

“Now with the expansion (in Charlotte), Henry Avocado will have the capacity to supply more customers with the freshest custom ripened avocados in the Mid-Atlantic region,” says Ozzie Figueroa, Henry Avocado marketing and customer service director. The avocados arrive in Charlotte by trucks originating in California and Mexico.

Expansion at Henry Avocado comes at a time of higher demand for the fruit used primarily for guacamole, dips, with eggs or toast. From 2000 to 2021, consumption of avocados has tripled to more than 8 pounds per person, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

California accounts for the majority of U.S. avocado production, followed by Florida and Hawaii. U.S. avocado production was about 150,000 tons in 2021, compared with more than 2.7 million tons annually in Mexico.

The cold storage facility in Charlotte includes a mix of forced air rooms, cooler storage space for produce, loading docks and a mechanical equipment room. Features include 55-degree to 60-degree temperatures at the dock and aisles; 40-degree cold storage spaces; and forced-air rooms, which have the ability to switch between 40 and 70 degrees, according to A M King.

The first facility gave Henry Avocado the ability to distribute about 300,000 avocados daily, with storage capacity for an additional 1 million avocados. The expansion adds 11 ripening rooms and one cooler. The facility was designed so that the temperature in each forced air room can be independently controlled, which offers a high degree of flexibility.

The facility now has 20 ripening rooms capable of custom-ripening 30,000 cartons for shipment each week. The total capability of the facility is more than 1.5 million cartons of organic and conventional avocados per year. 

A M King, an employee-owned company, is an integrated design-build firm that also has offices in Greenville, South Carolina, and Chicago.

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