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Mission knows how to Do The Ripe Thing

With the avocado continuing its trendy ways, Oxnard, CA-based Mission Produce is concentrating on educating front-line clerks on handling practices and giving consumers options at the checkout stand.Minis-Front

Vice President of Marketing Robb Bertels said that at the recent Produce Marketing Association convention in New Orleans, the company was showing off its best practices handling guide to give backroom and front-of-the-house representatives tips as to how best to handle avocados. Much research over the years has shown that avocado sales increase exponentially when the consumer purchases a ripe avocado at retail or tastes a perfect one in the foodservice arena.

The Mission handling guide is cleverly called Do The Ripe Thing — AvocaDOs and DON’Ts and is available in two versions — one for retail grocers and one for foodservice operators.

Bertels said the longtime avocado grower-shipper also continues to tout its mini-avocado bag program. The two-pound bags of small avocados have been offered by the company for quite some time, but recently it rebranded the line and sales are climbing. The green mesh bag has a colorful Minis label with the proprietary tag line “Small But Mighty.” The front of the bag also tells consumers that the contents are perfect for a single serving. The back has a single serving recipe and instructions such as Avocado Brunch Toast.

The Mission Produce executive said this option for the small fruit, as well as a bag program for other sizes and the single avocado offering, allows Mission “to sell everything that’s on the tree.” It is no secret that Mother Nature is variable in her production with each tree producing a wide range of sizes. For many years, the smaller fruit just wasn’t marketable in the fresh market. Today it can usually be offered at a value price and is seemingly the perfect size for many avocado uses.

As one of the larger avocado grower-shippers from many different points of origin, Mission is also attempting to expand the global market. Bertels said it has made some strong inroads in Asia with Koreans and Japanese being consistent buyers, and Chinese sales increasing as more consumers become familiar with the product. In each market, Mission partners with importers to provide ripe fruit to consumers, following the well-tested strategy that has worked in the United States for many decades. In China, Mission has partnered with a fruit retailer who is ripening the fruit and displaying it in its 2,500 retail outlets. Pagoda has plans to have 10,000 retail outlets by 2020. Bertels said avocado sales through that retailer are growing impressively.