Harvest is now underway for the 2010 California avocado crop, which is
estimated at 470 million pounds -- up dramatically from just 170 million
pounds in 2009 -- which promises to provide some excellent promotional
opportunities for retailers, according to Jan DeLyser, vice president of
marketing for the California Avocado Commission.
Retail sales data show that even last year, the six-month period from April
through September, when California avocados were at their peak, provided
retailers with increased revenues compared to the prior six-month period,
she said Feb. 23. And those opportunities should be even greater with this
year's much-larger crop.
In fact, with good volumes of fruit expected to be harvested in March, those
opportunities were expected to begin even before the harvest reaches peak
"A lot of research that we have demonstrates some really good retail potential
during that time frame when California [fruit] is available," Ms. DeLyser said.
It is also the time period that avocado demand is at its highest level, and that
is partly due to the "years of marketing support and effort and
communications" that the commission has put into building avocado demand
during the "spring-through-fall time frame."
IRI Fresh Look data on retail sales are "a good indication" of the strong dollar
sales potential for avocados during the California season, she said. "It is
demonstrated by recent retail activity, as reported by IRI Fresh Look," that the
April-to-September period in 2009 "delivered an additional $108 million in
retail [sales] to the total avocado category, versus the previous six months." Increases in retail dollar volume for the avocado category as well as increases
in retail unit sales for the category were seen "across all regions of the
Nor is it just a one-year phenomenon. The IRI Fresh Look data show retail
dollar volume for avocados during the April-through-September period
outpacing the previous six months for each of the past three years, she said.
The 2010 season should provide even greater opportunities for retailers than
were seen during the past couple of years, due to the larger volume of fruit
available from California during the months when avocado demand is
"I think the fact that we are going to have more volume out of California that
will be available during that April-through-September time frame" will
increase those opportunities, Ms. DeLyser said. Retailers can cash in on those
opportunities "with ripe programs" and also "with secondary displays."
Retailers may offer, for example, displays of large fruit with secondary bulk
displays or bag displays with smaller sizes.
Late-winter rains kept the harvest a little lighter than anticipated through
February, but "the handlers that we have spoken to all indicate that their
growers are looking to … begin harvesting in good amounts in March. That
will pick up speed [through] March and into April," and then continue with
heavy volume into the fall. The recent rainfall was expected to assist with
increased sizing on the fruit.
Chile, which had a larger volume of avocados during the winter period than a
year ago, was beginning to transition out of the market as of late February.
Although some importers still had Chilean fruit arriving, "most of them are
winding down very rapidly" and in fact a little more rapidly than had originally
been anticipated Ms. DeLyser said. "I think they thought they would be
shipping through March in greater volume. So there is good opportunity for
California to come in and pick up those numbers … that they were shipping."
Already "we've got a number of retailers who have requested California fruit
and who have made the switch," she said. "I think you will see that transition
taking place in certain markets over the next few weeks."
Quality of the early-season California fruit has been "really exceptional," she
said. "It is beautiful fruit externally," and it has shown "nice maturity" and
good eating quality since January.