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California avocados: promoting ripe California avocados is a sure way to increase consumer interest in these fruits. According to Jan De Lyser, vice president of marketing for the California Avocado Commission, avocados are a natural hit with health-conscious shoppers.

What is the focus of the promotional efforts at retail for California avocados?

Jan De Lyser: Promotional confidence at retail is high because operators know the availability of ripe California avocados is there. We continue our focus on ripe avocado programs because we see the bump in sales they provide--not only in established accounts but in new demand areas as well. These are areas of the country that are just becoming familiar with ripe avocados. Thanks to these promotional programs, consumers know that they can buy a ripe avocado that's ready to eat on any given day. That's what helps develop a committed customer.

Is there room to increase sales even in those areas that have traditionally been high sales markets for avocados?

There's so much room for growth in developed areas. Years of promotional support, consumer advertising, public relations and merchandising activities have paid off. We see our heavy users continuing to use more avocados because of the new usage ideas we've developed. There are areas in the country where there haven't been a lot of support programs to develop the avocado consumer. I think the development of the Hass Avocado Board, which provides additional funding for U.S. marketing programs, will allow for continued development of the established market and expansion into new demand areas.

There are two planks to the promotional program. One of them is Infotech--the Hass Avocado Board has established a network marketing center that will provide ongoing communication of volume availability and category information. That's scheduled to be launched in November. The marketing communications side of that program provides for public relations efforts throughout the United States to increase the awareness of avocados. There are also trade relations programs that communicate Hass availability to retailers and then send the feedback to the producing countries that are part of the program.

What can retailers do to help promote avocados?

I think the fact that we know avocados are going to be available in increased supply and at non-traditional times such as in the fall helps retailers plan additional promotions. Retailers have a promotional opportunity in the fall to really grow their category sales in avocados. Labor day, Halloween and the World Series are all good occasions for promoting avocado usage. Through the Chilean Avocado Association we have programs that will promote All-Star Avocados as a usage idea--in Chile they eat avocados on their hotdogs. When retailers are planning for the fall, they have an opportunity to capture sales at a time when traditionally they probably have not done so. We also have nutrition information and recipes available for shoppers.

What's the status of the RipeMax! audit program?

RipeMax! is a program that tracks sales, merchandising and promotion of avocados through a series of store audits. Last year, we sent auditors into 12 markets during the California avocado season. This year we will continue to audit the advertised market, but we will also include the Chilean campaign and will do two audits in each of the markets.

With consumers so into diet and nutrition these days, what do avocados have to offer health-conscious shoppers?

With 24 million adults currently on low-carbohydrate diets, consumers are looking for foods that not only fit the diet but taste good as well. Avocados are naturally low in net carbs. One serving contains only about 55 calories and 3 grams of carbohydrates. When you factor in avocados' 3 grams of fiber, you come out with 0 grams of net carbs. Avocados are also cholesterol free, but contain heart-healthy monounsaturated fats and are a good source of vitamin E, lutein, fiber, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin and many other essential nutrients.
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Title Annotation:Produce/Floral
Publication:Grocery Headquarters
Article Type:Advertisement
Date:Sep 1, 2004
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