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Celebrating California Avocados: Embracing Locally Grown Avocados this Summer

By June 14, 2024No Comments

It’s June, the official launch of summer, and there are a million worthy reasons to fire up the grill to celebrate with friends and family. But June is also California Avocado Month, a time to honor this home-grown fruit with all of the sunny accolades it deserves.

“There is no better way to kick off summer than by supporting locally grown fruit and the growers who work hard all year to deliver for the California Season,” said West Pak Avocado CEO Mario Pacheco. “California Avocado Month is the perfect opportunity to promote this seasonal favorite and make the most of it in retail stores across the West.”

The California Avocado Month festivities begin by announcing a new price lookup (PLU) sticker that will grace the wonderfully bumpy skin of all loose fruit from the state throughout the season. This California Avocado Commission (CAC) branded sticker was designed to support the “buy local” movement of this seasonal favorite and help elevate California avocado sales.

The California Advantage

Avocados have been grown in California for more than a century, and since 1978, consumers have seen and heard advertising touting their goodness. But what is it about the California avocado that makes it so special, and how can retailers make the most of it during the California season?

In a recent conversation with Terry Splane, vice president of marketing for the California Avocado Commission (CAC), he explained that locally grown avocados offer a fresh-to-market advantage that is essential for consumers today. They also contribute to sustainability factors that consumers care about, like less transportation. In fact, 84% of avocado shoppers in the West say they are willing to pay slightly more for locally-grown avocados. 

“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,” mentioned Splane.

Bringing Variety to the Table

Of the 208 million pounds of avocados projected for 2024, most are of the Hass variety. And it’s no wonder these are the most popular avocados. When ripe, they have a distinctive purplish-black skin, a subtly nutty flavor, and a buttery, creamy texture.

However, other California varieties are also invited to the party. 

The Lamb Hass variety offers a larger, slightly less elongated oval-shaped piece of fruit that looks similar to Hass with its pebbly skin. But it’s the creamy texture and delicate taste that earns Lambs a place at the table during late summer. Around 6 million pounds of Lamb Hass avocados are estimated to make their way into stores. 

Gem avocados are projected to make up 5 million pounds of the volume this year. These California-grown treasures feature a buttery texture and a nuanced nutty flavor and offer a delicious eating experience. With a rounder shape and delicately gold-speckled skin that is easy to peel, Gems are a limited variety that peaks during the summer.  

A Gift from the West

When in season, much of the volume of California avocados stays in the state. 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.

Retailer Support

At the peak of California avocado season, retailers have a unique opportunity to capitalize on the popularity of this green fruit from sunny California. 

The California Avocado Commission is increasing its emphasis on customized retailer support. Different retailers have different strategies and marketing needs, so the CAC Retail Marketing Directors (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, social media support, special events, and more. The CAC RMDs coordinate with the West Pak sales team to ensure timing and an adequate supply of fruit during the program.

California in the Bag

During the California avocado season, West Pak offers its signature California Gold bag. According to Splane, the Commission and California growers love that the California origin is called out prominently on the 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.” 

West Pak Avocado Vice President of Sales and Business Development Joe Nava believes this is the perfect time to create an avocado destination. He suggests placing bags with multiple fruit sizes near the bulk fruit so shoppers have a choice. “Get creative with merchandising with exciting private-label California call-out bags, West Pak’s California Gold bag, or customize Lil’Cados or the jumbo Party Pak with Golden State fruit. The bags are bright, seasonably festive, and easy to grab and go—ideal for displaying in the produce aisle, highlighting in heavy traffic areas, or at the register for last-minute impulse buys.”

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

Ready to elevate your sales during California Avocado Month and beyond? Connect with West Pak’s Avo Experts today!