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APTOS, CA -- With the close of 2009 bringing abundant, high-quality Chilean Hass avocados, U.S. retailers across the country are using the Chilean Avocado Importers Association's eye-catching, in-store promotional materials and comprehensive marketing program to drive increased sales in the produce department.

"Our Chilean Hass avocado promotion has been an absolute home run for us as we garnered double-digit sales increases," Steve Williams, director of produce at Sweetbay Supermarket, said in a Dec. 1 press release. "The point- of-sale materials and consumer touch points were great [and] very creative. I am really proud of our produce managers, merchandisers and store managers because they creatively and effectively promoted Chilean avocados through beautiful in-store displays."

As part of the partnership with Sweetbay, the association conducted an avocado display contest. Approximately 90 percent of Sweetbay's 104 stores participated with creative and elaborate displays. The winning displays were unrestricted, easily accessible and contained other items that complement avocados. Mark Every, a produce manager at Sweetbay, was awarded the grand prize: a cash prize and a special dinner with Food Network star Ingrid Hoffmann and top Sweetbay executives in Tampa, FL, where he resides.

Sweetbay Supermarket plus other corporate and family-owned retailers across the country have implemented CAIA-produced p-o-s materials in their produce departments. In fact, several CAIA consumer-focused campaigns have retail in-store signage components, allowing retailers to choose among them based on their customer demographic.

"The importance of CAIA's relationship with retailers is twofold," Maggie Bezart, the association's director of marketing, said in the release. "Not only is it a very important cornerstone to CAIA's success in marketing efforts to effectively increase U.S.-based consumer demand and consumption of Hass avocados from Chile, but it is also key for our retail partners to use our specially developed materials to generate increased sales of Chilean Hass avocados in their stores."

The association's Grab Some for the Game promotion targets sports fans and their families, while the Chilean Avocado Lovers Club campaign targets adults over 18 hoping to win one of 60 grand prizes of $250 in groceries.

The Grab Some for the Game campaign successfully captures the attention of sports fans preparing for game-day festivities with signage and an avocado display bin cleverly featuring a football or soccer ball inside an image of an avocado half. Retailers are encouraged to submit photos of their displays with CAIA p-o-s materials to enter for a chance to win a first-, second- or third- place prize in each of the association's four U.S. merchandising regions. The association will also recommend its winners for entry in United Fresh Produce Association's Produce Manager of the Year Award.

The Chilean Avocado Lovers Club p-o-s material incorporates a groovy, avocado green logo and the opportunity for shoppers to enter the club's So Good, So Many Ways Random Drawing. Brand-new, in-store display bins storing handy ripening bags for consumers' home use are the perfect complement to any produce department, the release said. The bins have information about entering the contest, its prizes and a colorful sweepstakes entry pad for easy submission. More than 5,000 entries have been submitted to date for the contest, which will continue through February.

Winners will be randomly selected and notified by telephone or e-mail no later than March 15. Sixty winners will each receive a $250 supermarket gift card grand prize. Two hundred additional winners will each receive an official Chilean Avocado Importers Association/American Youth Soccer Organization soccer ball runner-up prize. Entries will be accepted on-line through the Chilean Avocado Lovers Club web site, www.chileanavocadoloversclub.com, and via direct mail.