Recently, Mission Produce, Inc., based in Oxnard, CA, launched two promotion programs designed to appeal to consumers and their perceptions and use of avocados. While the promotions were not specifically created with a point of avocado origin in mind, both promotions are being used to help create demand for California avocados this spring and summer.
Senior Director of Marketing and Communications Denise Junqueiro told The Produce News in mid-March that the “Opt For Avo” promotion is a “health and lifestyle campaign” designed to promote avocado as a healthy substitute for foods high in saturated fats.
The company will use social media content, influencer partnerships with registered dietitians, in-store merchandising options and digital media kits to get the message across.
She added that Mission will also offer retailers several point-of-sale options, including promotional material and display bins.
In a press release announcing the effort, Senior Vice President of Sales and Marketing Ross Wileman said: “In the wake of increasing focus on consumer health, we foresee this campaign as a timely movement to increase market penetration and overall avocado consumption. More than educate on the nutritional benefits of avocados, we aim to ignite a consumer habit to use this superfood not only as a healthy substitute, but to ‘wow up your week’ and bring joy and happiness to every meal.”
Mission reported that surveys have found that there is still a lot of work to be done in helping consumers draw the connection between healthy eating and avocados. In one survey, only about 65 percent of participants associated avocados with healthy fats, though this message has been consistently reinforced by the collective avocado industry for the past two decades. The same survey revealed that only 51 percent of consumers associated avocados with heart health, 36 percent considered them a good source of fiber and 32 percent as immunity-boosting.
Mission is working with Registered Dietitian-Nutritionist and Founder of Nutrition Happens May Zhu to help with the healthy messaging. “We’re excited to have May as one of our key partners to help us encourage consumers to ‘dazzle up their day’ with happy and healthy moments with avocados,” said Junqueiro.
“We’re leaning on data and science to drive our ‘Opt For Avo’ campaign forward. There is significant opportunity to give consumers more reasons to integrate avocados into a healthy lifestyle and get their ‘daily dose of delicious.’”
Late last fall, Mission launched a promotion featuring jumbo avocados, defined as 40 size and larger, as a way to address changing eating habits during the pandemic. Junqueiro called the jumbo avocado “a sharing avocado” as opposed to a single serve option, which Mission also touts with other merchandising aids, including its bags of “Minis.”
Junqueiro said the Mission Jumbos offering was created in response to consumer trends indicating that people are increasingly incorporating avocados into their everyday diets and preparing more meals themselves as they continue to work, learn, and play at home. This shift in behavior and lifestyle has changed consumer buying habits, causing them to prefer and purchase multiple, larger sized avocados to last through the week.
“Consumers shop for their avocados based on how they plan to use them and who they’re feeding, and now they’re shopping for more people while making fewer trips to the store per week,” she said at the time the promotion was announced. “That’s where the Mission Jumbos shareable serving avocado comes in. Avocados have become a dietary staple in consumers’ minds, and we are excited to be able to expand our product offering to meet evolving consumer preferences.”
On March 15, Stephen Fink, vice president of sales for Mission, said that the avocado market has strengthened in recent weeks and he expects it to remain in that state at least through the spring. He noted that California does have a smaller crop this season — about 20 percent less than last year, but still a good sized crop. “There will be less fruit available as total tonnage will be down, but it is shaping up to be a good crop with a strong size curve.”
In the first couple months of the year, California fruit was having trouble sizing because of lack of rain, but Fink said March has ushered in some rain that should size up the fruit. Mission, he said, should have California fruit to sell through September, with the heavy volume period stretching from mid-April to mid-August.
He added that a very active market should exist at least through May, as Mexico’s production appears to be past its peak with weekly imports not reaching the levels that they hit earlier this year.
Mission is a significant producer and importer of Peruvian avocdos, which Fink said should hit the East Coast in early to mid-June. He opined that the Peruvian crop, which is expected to witness increased shipments to the U.S. market this season, will have a minimal impact on the California avocado season. He explained that while there is some crossover, for the most part, California fruit stays in the West while the marketing of Peruvian fruit is skewed toward the East Coast.