California avocado growers bounce back with good volume

by Tim Linden | March 31, 2020

caavocados22 In its final pre-season crop forecast, the California Avocado Commission announced a 369 million pound crop for 2020, which was significantly greater than 2019 volume. This volume will likely mean a longer California avocado season and expanded distribution compared to 2019, though the current Covid-19 crisis and increased demand could have an impact on the length of the season.

“The current estimate for the 2020 California avocado crop, 369 million pounds, is 70 percent higher than last season,” Tom Bellamore, president of the California Avocado Commission president, said in February. “There was plenty of much-welcomed rain last year, which had a positive impact on tree health and this year’s bountiful fruit set.”

Jan DeLyser, vice president of marketing for CAC, said the majority of the fruit will be marketed in the West, and there are retailers all over the country who like to feature California avocados when the fruit is available. “We expect that the handlers will have promotable volume from April through August,” said DeLyser.

In fact, she revealed that some smaller California retailers transitioned to California avocados with early harvesting in January. There are always many avocados promotions leading up to Super Bowl weekend, and some retailers did jump on the California avocado bandwagon in time for those sales.

California avocado volume increased through March on a weekly basis, with peak volume availability expected from April through August, encompassing the American summer holidays of Memorial Day, Independence Day and Labor Day.

With storewide retail sales above normal for nearly all categories, California avocado sales are running somewhat ahead of early projections. The temporary curtailment of dine-in foodservice operations may temper increased retail volume; it is too early to predict if the Covid-19 situation will change the length of the California avocado season.

“Distribution is targeted mainly to California and the West, and with greater volume there may be opportunity this year for customers outside this region who prefer to merchandise California avocados in season,” said DeLyser. “We’re working with avocado handlers, participating retailers and select foodservice operators to set up timely crop transitions.”

In support of this year’s larger crop, the commission evolved its Made of California advertising campaign with new creative materials, innovative uses of media, and interactive communication with fans and brand advocates

DeLyser noted that the new consumer advertising campaign is rooted in the earlier efforts that emphasized that the fruit came from California and is symbolic of the state’s personality, if you will. The campaign is designed to differentiate California from increasing competition from countries with similar seasonality.

CAC’s new campaign reminds people “The best avocados have California in them.” Literally. The visuals point out the state’s abbreviation is contained in the fruit’s name: avo-CA-dos. Each consumer ad features the word “avocados” with the “CA” creatively transformed into an iconic representation of the state. The campaign utilizes nine words that evoke images of the Golden State: California, freshness, summer, dreams, sunshine, love, vibes, coasts and Zen.

In addition, CAC teamed up with Vans, the popular shoe and clothing retailer, on the “vibes” artwork to make it authentically California. The Vans brand represents effortless California cool and with its partnership, the commission made the iconic checkerboard slip-on shoe a key element of the California avocado vibes artwork.

The new consumer ad campaign began in March with a combination of traditional and digital media in the West and a focus on California.

“Targeting and flexible marketing plans have been a keystone for CAC in recent years, and it is especially helpful for us this year,” said DeLyser, adding that the commission’s key focus now is to support growers, customers and consumers during this challenging time.

In light of the Covid-19 situation, DeLyser told The Produce News on March 23 that CAC was holding off on its trade promotion plans since retailers’ key priorities were getting inventories to their stores and looking out for their employees. She said the commission was disseminating information to consumers about safe handling procedures for avocados as well as connecting them to information from appropriate authorities about the novel coronavirus.

In addition, the promotional team was continuing to develop the advertising creative with a watchful eye on the situation and carefully considering timing.

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