With a shorter crop this year than in 2013, the California avocado industry anticipated an earlier finish to the shipping season, with heavy volumes well into August but declining the latter part of the month and only moderate availability thereafter.
Due to the lighter supplies and the earlier finish, the California Avocado Commission will not carry its promotional activities as late into the season this year as it did in 2013, but those efforts will continue through Labor Day.
"The California Avocado Commission has key account retail and foodservice programs scheduled through Labor Day," said Jan DeLyser, vice president of marketing for the commission.
"On the consumer front, we are continuing our advertising campaign and introducing the second year of CAC’s program designed to build consumption of avocados at breakfast time," Delyser said. "For the latter, we’re launching a new Web page on July 30 at www.californiaavocado.com/avocados-for-breakfast , and will be sharing dozens of new breakfast recipes and usage tips for California avocados online and via social media. A dedicated email will feature an article by Registered Dietitian Michele Dudash. Another well-respected RD, Bonnie Taub-Dix will help promote CAC’s avocados for breakfast campaign via public relations outreach."
For retailers, "we are supplying 'Wake Up to Breakfast' recipe brochures that can be merchandised on California avocado displays," she said.
The commission "also maintains online and social media programs throughout the year to satisfy our fans. We share information about the growing and handling practices of premium California avocados and their season, as well as providing recipes and usage ideas," DeLyser continued.
In the foodservice sector, CAC "continues to promote California avocado usage through innovative menu ideas and limited time offers," DeLyser said in the statement. "These have not only been very successful at building demand in foodservice, but also have the additional benefit of introducing consumers to new usage ideas they can try at home.
Datassential Insider reported that this year it is 'all about the avocado' and noted growth in the following menu areas: sandwiches (+18 percent), burgers (+32 percent), pizza (+22 percent), and egg dishes (+15 percent). All of these growth areas have been part of CAC’s targeted outreach."
In the retail arena this year, DeLyser said, "we are excited with the progress the California avocado industry has made in making it easier for shoppers to tell when they are buying California avocado by improving on-fruit country of origin identification. We originally planned to test the concept of a California Avocado brand label at retail this year, but adoption of the idea has been widespread. Retailer reaction also has been very positive. Some retailers who like to promote locally-grown produce have expanded on the idea with their own point-of-sale materials trumpeting the California origin."
Another CAC marketing program "that has made great strides," Delyser said in the statement, "is our American Summer Holidays promotion, with emphasis on the Fourth of July." CAC started developing the promotional connection between avocados and “American Summer Holidays” about four years ago, she said. "It simply made sense to create California avocado recipes and usage ideas that tied in with summer gatherings during the peak of our season. The American Summer Holidays promotions have proven to be successful with this past Fourth of July exceeding all records for consumption (including Super Bowl and Cinco de Mayo) with 109.3 million pounds."
With a smaller crop than last year, California had shipped about 230 million pounds of fruit as of July 21, with the season "about 65 percent complete" in terms of shipping volume, according to CAC President Tom Bellamore.
"We saw quite a bit of volume come off in the early part of the season" and continuing "strong through the summer, so we are expecting things to begin winding down by the end of August," Bellamore told The Produce News. "There will still be fruit into September, but probably just for select customers. I think the packers will work with several accounts to try to keep them in California fruit as long as they can, but I think it will become much more selective after the end of August."
Unlike some seasons when "we have been faced with higher inventories of the smaller-sized fruit," Bellamore said, the size profile of fruit in the market has been higher this year, and "the small fruit is performing very well price-wise.
Although fruit from other producing areas has been in the market throughout the California season, California fruit has held a premium, Bellamore said. "That is the case right now, and it has been the case for a good part of the season." It appears that the market "is rewarding California production for its freshness and proximity to market," he added.