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New MHAIA board looks to continue growth

by | March 31, 2009
Biennial elections for the Mexican Hass Avocado Importers Association's board of directors took place March 25 at its bimonthly meeting in Irvine, CA.

Incoming Chairman Mike Browne is joined by Vice Chairman David Ruiz Vega, Secretary Giovanni Cavaletto, Treasurer Alfredo Rodriguez and Directors J. Jesus Lopez Herrera, Ed Figueroa, Aureliano Pena Esparza and Doug Meyer. Alternate board members are Ross Wileman, Mario Rivas Barrag?n, Avi Crane, Antonio Villase?or Zurita, Alejandro Alvarez del Toro, Jimmy Lotufo, Sergio Guerreo Urbina and Phil Henry.

Mr. Browne of Camarillo, CA, one of the original MHAIA board members, is vice president of fresh operations for Calavo Growers Inc., the largest avocado marketer in the United States. He is excited about his involvement at this critical time for the industry.

"We are on the doorstep of a significant incremental increase in volume for the entire category," Mr. Brown said in an April 1 press release from Lewis & Neale Inc. in New York, which handles public relations for the avocado association. "The industry's investment in growing demand has managed to stay ahead of supply. MHAIA is a key player, and we are seriously committed to executing positive consumer messaging and timely promotions to ensure continued growth."

The association experienced continued growth in membership and market share under the outgoing board, led by Chairman Antonio Villase?or Zurita. Mexico has supplied over 60 percent of the total volume of Hass avocados in the United States in the past 12 months and more than 80 percent since Nov. 9, according to the Hass Avocado Board. To support this increased volume, the Mexican Hass Avocado Importers Association has invested heavily in education and promotion, particularly in the eastern United States, where consumption is lower relative to the high population.

Jacqueline Bohmer, in her first year as MHAIA's marketing director, is leading a new direction in the advertising campaign, retail promotion support and consumer and trade outreach via public relations that the board oversees.

"Our research has revealed that education is needed in our target markets on not only how to select and ripen an avocado but on the numerous health benefits and ways to include avocados in every day meals," Ms. Bohmer said in the press release. "We are investing approximately $10 million this year to grow the category and reach our target markets."