As if sensing our love of avocados, the nice folks at the California Avocado Commission invited us, along with a group of other SoCal food bloggers, to the Temecula area for an interesting, fun and tasty avocado-filled day-trip.
The first part of the day was held at the West Pak avacado packing facility in Temecula.
Talk about a building full of avacados - from the moment we stepped inside, we were completely surrounded by them!
The avocados arrive at the facility from the growers in large bins:
After being dumped out of the bins, they go through a hand-grading process to classify them as "Ones" or "Twos", based largely on their outward appearance.
The control room has monitors that can view all parts of the facility. Some of these feeds are available online to growers so that they can remotely watch their crop being processed.
After grading, a machine sorts the avocados by weight:
We saw two packaging methods - there is a bagging line where avocados are fed onto a conveyor (shown in the photo at the top of this post) leading to a packaging machine. Here are a bunch of avocados being fed onto the conveyor:
and here is a short video of the avocados bouncing along their path to the bagging machine:
The other packaging method is boxing:
Despite all the machines moving the avocados from here to there, it was interesting to see just how much of the entire process was done by hand. The workers hand-sorted initially, hand-packed the bagged fruit into boxes, and with lightning speed, hand-packed individual fruit into trays in boxes.
The lower-grade avocados are sold under the "Dos Amigos" brand - destined primarily for the food service industry where outward appearance is not important:
And here are their more shiny, attractive siblings, destined for a grocery store near you:
We are fascinated by operations like this - seeing the step-by-step process in which a farm crop is transformed into a consumer-facing product.
Thanks to West Pak for having us as guests for the morning, and thanks to all of the West Pak employees who tolerated a bunch of annoying, camera-toting food bloggers in their midst!