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Capitalizing on California Avocado Season: Opportunities for Retailers 

By March 28, 2024No Comments

Exclusive Q&A with California Avocado Commission’s Vice President of Marketing, Terry Splane

As the peak California avocado season approaches, retailers have a unique opportunity to capitalize on the popularity of this green fruit from sunny California. In a recent conversation with Terry Splane, vice president of marketing for the California Avocado Commission (CAC), he explained what makes California avocados so special and how retailers can make the most of them during the California season.

What’s exciting and new with California fruit this season?

Terry Splane: This season, the California Avocado Commission debuts a new consumer marketing campaign highlighting what makes California avocados different and desirable. The campaign focuses on the communication of locally grown and sustainability and creates a sense of urgency to buy California avocados because their unlimited flavor is only available for a limited time. Filmed in lush California avocado groves in San Diego and Ventura counties, the ads feature two multi-generational families of California avocado growers and beautiful images of this season’s avocados.

What is the California advantage? Why should retailers bring in California fruit? 

Terry Splane: For years retailers have told us that they love California avocado season because they can count on the fruit quality and the reliability of delivery. For many retailers, supporting locally grown produce is part of their own strategies, and imports can’t deliver on that. California avocados can. California avocado season traditionally delivers increased velocity, and consumers say they are willing to pay more for them, so it benefits retailers to transition to California as soon as they can and stay with California as long as possible.

How would you describe the flavor profile of California Avocados?

Terry Splane: Buttery, slightly nutty with a creamy mouthfeel. California avocados are delicious solo, and they elevate almost any dish with the privilege to include them.

Why is California the preferred avocado-growing region to shoppers in the West? How does the “locally grown” aspect affect demand?

Terry Splane: Avocados have been grown in California for more than a century, and since the inception of the California Avocado Commission in 1978, consumers have seen and heard advertising for California avocados, so that plays into the preference.  Personally, I just love the taste and how well the fruit cuts in season. Locally grown brings a fresh-to-market advantage that is very important for consumers today. Locally grown contributes to sustainability factors that consumers care about, like less transportation. In fact, 84% of avocado shoppers in the West say they would be willing to pay slightly more for avocados that are locally grown.

With your interaction with the Eastern retailers, how important is it to have California Avocados in their stores?

Terry Splane: Given the size of the crop in the last couple of years, most of the volume has stayed in the West. However, there are some top-notch retailers in the East and Midwest who really want to stock premium-quality California avocados in season. Our retail marketing directors (RMDs) work directly with those customers and their avocado handlers.

What other varieties of avocados do you recommend for your specialized produce retailers, and how does that overlay into your Hass program?

Terry Splane: The Commission markets all California avocados, not any one variety. At the retail level, the RMDs work with specialized produce retailers whose volume requirements fit with the availability of varieties other than Hass. For now, varietal programs are shorter in duration and focus on in-store activities such as displays. It fits with certain retailers’ strategies to bring in items that usually are not carried by their competitors.

Do you have a data story, such as an example of California bags outperforming other countries of origin? 

Terry Splane: Since avocado PLUs currently do not differentiate based on countries of origin, there’s no syndicated data to compare retail sales by origin. However, it is known that when California avocados are in season, much of the volume of California avocados stays in the state, so we are sharing the following information.

According to data from Circana, during the 2022 California Season, the average weekly bagged avocado sales volume increased by +93% in California since 2019, 38 points higher than outside California (+55%).

Also, during the 2022 California season, 60% of avocado shoppers in California purchased bagged avocados, whereas 49% of avocado shoppers outside of California did.

What sort of support can retailers expect from CAC during California Avocado season? 

Terry Splane: The California Avocado Commission is increasing our emphasis on customized retailer support. Different retailers have different strategies and marketing needs, so the CAC RMDs work with them to develop marketing tactics that they know will move the needle. Programs range from in-store support, such as signage, display bins and demos, to digital advertising and social media support to special events and more. The RMDs coordinate with the West Pak sales team on timing and to ensure an adequate supply of the fruit during the program.

How can West Pak’s California Gold bag tie in with CAC’s promotions?

Terry Splane: The Commission and growers love that the California origin is called out prominently on your California Gold bag. It’s a great opportunity because 61% of avocado shoppers in the West say they would be more likely to buy a bag of avocados if it said “California” on the bag. They would look great at retail merchandised in our display bins that complement our new advertising campaign! Just coordinate promotions with CAC’s RMDs.

From helping with displays to guiding purchases through avocado-based recipes on social media, West Pak Avocado is proud to partner with CAC to deliver retail opportunities for the California avocado season. Reach out to your sales representative to create a California program that’s just ripe for you and your avocado category.