The California Avocado Commission (CAC) has launched an on-fruit branding program that will clearly identify California avocados as from California and provide close linkage to CAC’s marketing campaign. Several avocado handlers will be applying the new California avocado labels to their fruit this season.
The callout of California origin has been a long-time coming and is in response to the rise in consumers’ interest in locally grown produce and checking for country of origin. The Commission also conducted retail tests in 2013 to determine consumer response to the labels. The positive consumer reaction lead to the rollout with the California handlers resulting in assorted programs featuring the California-branded labels.
“The California avocado handlers have been open to the research and to the exploration of how to support the program. Each packing line is different so it is not a one size fits all program,” says Jan DeLyser, vice president of marketing. “Adding a second label to the fruit or changing their labelling practices to include the California brand during California season is no small feat, but they understand the value this information provides to encourage consumers to purchase more avocados.”
CAC also is readying its western-focused marketing and merchandising campaign to start in late-April with a consumer press release and mat release announcing the start of California avocado season. The releases also promote California avocados as an ingredient for healthy snacks and include avocado nutrition messaging. CAC registered dietitian ambassador Katie Ferraro developed four easy and delicious “100-calorie snack” recipes in support of the program.
The week of April 14 CAC will host a series of season opener live chats on its popular Facebook page, which has more than a quarter of a million fans. On April 14 California avocado grower Doug O’Hara will be the guest host discussing growing avocados in the Golden State. Registered dietitian Emily Schiller hosts on April 16 to chat with fans about avocado nutrition, with an emphasis on snacking. Wrapping up the week on April 18 is chef Ivy Stark, who will talk with fans about cooking with avocados. Avocado usage ideas from chef Stark’s new book, Dos Caminos Tacos, make the perfect segue way into one of the biggest consumption events of the year for avocados, Cinco de Mayo.
California avocado fans join the chats to ask questions, share ideas and comment for a chance to win prizes, including fresh California avocados and chef Stark’s new book. The contest and event are being publicized via CAC’s new blog, The Scoop, promoted Facebook posts, an email newsletter and recurring social media posts.
DeLyser noted that the California avocado crop this season is expected to be in the neighborhood of 300 million pounds, which is in the “average-size” crop range. Harvest timing will mean a condensed season compared to last year, with good availability from late-April through early September.