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APTOS, CA -- The Chilean Avocado Importers Association's marketing team recently visited Chile to experience the fruit harvesting first hand and to become Chilean avocado experts, thus resulting in more effective and innovative consumer marketing strategies.

The team included representatives of the association's's public relations agency, Sahlman Williams in Tampa, FL; ad agency Evans Hardy & Young in Santa Barbara, CA; point-of-sale and retail agency Augustine & Associates in Sacramento, CA; and three of the association's four regional merchandising representatives. Maggie Bezart, marketing director and leader of the marketing team, and Xavier Equihua, the association's executive director, were also part of the tour group.

"The members of this team are an integral part of CAIA's success," Jorge Covarubbias, CAIA chairman of the board, said in a Jan. 11 press release. "Witnessing first hand how our avocados are grown, harvested and packed in turn gives them the ability to educate others about our state-or-the-art practices and quality of our fruit from the avocado tree in Chile to the shelves of U.S. supermarkets."

The marketing team visited the avocado growing regions, including new avocado groves, terraced into the foothills of the Andes Mountains. Additionally, the group toured several avocado packinghouses located north and northeast of Chile's capital and largest city, Santiago. Grower and exporter families hosted the team at exceptional meals in their homes and in the groves, giving the marketers a very personal taste of Chilean hospitality and food.

"At the conclusion of our tour, the team agreed that they had a heightened understanding of the quality of Chilean Hass avocados and renewed commitment to communicate that message to CAIA's retail and foodservice customers and consumers," Ms. Bezart said in the release. "The time spent during the tour has been an important part of our planning process as we continually work to integrate all our marketing programs to benefit growers, exporters and importers as well as our customers and consumers.