CAC champions celebrating Cinco de Mayo with avocados
The California Avocado Commission, headquartered in Irvine, CA, represents more than 3,500 growers producing avocados on nearly 55,000 acres in the Golden State. The Commission manages the assessment dollars paid by growers to manage marketing, production research and industry affairs on their behalf.
“For the three weeks leading up to Cinco de Mayo, the average weekly supply of avocados from all sources is currently forecast at 64 million pounds,” said Jan DeLyser, vice president marketing for the CAC. “This is an increase of eight percent vs. 2018 — we are using 2018 as the comparison due to last year’s short supply.”
Generally, the big three consumption events for avocados are the Super Bowl, The Fourth of July and Cinco de Mayo. The relative volume of each varies year-to-year, as does pricing, so in some years one occasion is number one for volume and another is number one for dollar sales.
“May is during California avocado season so it has become more important promotional opportunity to California avocado growers than occasions like the Big Game,” DeLyser said. “Even though CAC was instrumental in creating the connection between Guacamole and the Big Game and there is some harvest that goes on in February, the timing falls outside of California’s key season.”
Doing well for Cinco de Mayo just takes common sense and strong work. DeLyser noted providing high-quality product and dependable service are a requirement for success. In addition, marketing plays a major role. The Commission has been marketing California avocados for more than 40 years.
“Differentiation of the California brand is key, and over time CAC has worked to make the association of California with avocados very strong,” DeLyser said. “California avocados are preferred by a large margin by avocado shoppers in the West, who rate them fresher and higher premium quality according to the California Avocado Tracking Study.”
A recent study conducted by Menu Matters found that more than 70 percent of restaurant patrons nationwide identify avocados as a component in a dish if “California” is part of the menu item name or description.
In 2019, the California avocado crop volume was low due to a variety of natural conditions. The exceptional rains in 2019 contributed to California avocado tree health and a more bountiful crop this season, which is forecast to reach 369 million pounds, a 70 percent increase over last year. The GEM variety is relatively new and volume is increasing.
“California avocado quality this season is exceptional with good demand and pace of harvest,” DeLyser said. “There should be ample supplies of all sizes available around Cinco de Mayo, meeting the needs and preferences of different retailers.”
Demand for avocados has grown significantly, with U.S. consumption increasing from 1.6 pounds per capita in the 1990s to 7.1 pounds around 2014-16.
“A major factor in that growth has been groundbreaking marketing by the Commission as well as the other avocado marketing organizations,” DeLyser said. “Nutrition research and communication helped change consumer perceptions from ‘avocados are fattening’ to ‘avocados are healthy.’ Ripening techniques made ripe avocados accessible to consumers every day, and how-to recipes and usage ideas moved avocados from being primarily for guacamole to a favorite food 24/7.”