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"We're really in planning mode for the 2010 crop year," Jan DeLyser, vice president of marketing for the California Avocado Commission in Irvine, CA, told The Produce News.

The California avocado industry was just wrapping up its smallest crop in decades, but the 2010 crop was expected to be at least double 2009.

"So as we are looking to the future," there is, within the commission, "a real desire to keep the marketing dollars working," Ms. DeLyser said.

During 2009, because of the light volume, commission programs "focused on the West," she said. "We had real strong pull on the fruit, and some retailers outside of the target area where the marketing dollars were being spent were also involved in promoting California avocados this year."

Moving forward, "the marketing program is going to remain focused on evaluating consumer research," and the early trends analysis shows that consumers continue to have interest in how the foods they eat are being produced, and by whom, Ms. DeLyser said. "We think that validates continuing [for a third year] the California Grower campaign," which profiles specific individuals who are representative of California avocado growers, and also the "hand grown in California thematic messaging" which emphasizes how hands-on the avocado growers in California are.

While specifics of the 2010 campaign have not yet been determined, "we fully expect [it] to have a similar look and feel" to that of the last two years, she said. "It has been well received by both foodservice and retail, and we are seeing them incorporate it in their outreach at point of purchase, which is great."

The commission's integrated campaign has included consumer advertising in magazines and radio as well as in-store broadcasts and grocery cart buys to "keep California avocados top of mind to those consumers when they are in the store preparing to make their purchases," she said.

The commission's fitness center outreach is currently in its second year, and "we will look at that for 2010" as well because it is a targeted outreach to a key demographic "and we have had some good success with that," she said. In addition, "we will be looking at some on-line & banner ads and possibly some on-line couponing activity," she noted.

The commission's public relations campaign will continue "to tell the nutrition story" using "artisan chefs & in the markets that we are targeting," Ms. DeLyser said.

Also, "we've got a nutritionist/dietician that speaks on our behalf," responding to consumer requests and "doing media interviews on the nutritional value of avocados."

The commission's trade programs for foodservice and retail "will continue full throttle," providing foodservice operators and retailers "with the materials that will support their sales outreach on California avocados," she said.

(For more on global avocados, see the Aug. 10, 2009 issue of The Produce News.)