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The 2010 California avocado crop is much larger than the previous year's crop and will run much later into the season. For that reason, the California Avocado Commission in Irvine, CA, will continue its marketing programs well into the fall this year, according to Jan DeLyser, vice president of marketing.

"We are leading the charge right now" in terms of the amount of avocados in the U.S. market, she said July 22. “The great majority of the [current] volume is coming out of California, and I would expect that to be the case well into September. I think we will start seeing others come in, but [in California] we have really good volume to work with this year, and the quality has been really outstanding.”

To date, California growers had harvested about 300 million pounds of avocados out of an estimated crop of 490 million pounds for the season, “so we have some distance to travel,” she said. “But we are seeing really solid movement, excellent promotions and good support from both retail and foodservice.” By contrast, “last year at this time, we were pretty much wrapping up.”

With a larger volume running much later this year, there are some “notable differences” in the commission’s marketing activities, Ms. DeLyser said. First, “we will be advertising longer,” with radio ads in core markets continuing through the month of August and into September. Also, “we will have some on-line activity going on.”

In addition, the commission is participating this year in a joint promotion with the Hass Avocado Board, tying into college football.

“Last year, because we didn’t have any fruit in the marketplace, we were not part of the joint promotion that was put together” with HAB and other avocado marketing organizations for the fall season. This year, “we are happy to be a part of that and looking forward to seeing some good fall activity around college football,” she said.

Other components of the commission’s marketing program include promotional support materials for retailers such as retail display bins “branded with the graphics of the campaign.” The corrugated cardboard bins are pop-up style and hold three lugs of avocados each. “We’ve seen phenomenal pickup,” Ms. DeLyser said. “We have shipped over 6,000 of those on order, on request from retailers,” so there has been “a very positive response” to them.

This year, the commission has “done a lot of work with artisan chefs in 14 markets throughout the United States,” she said. The chefs are “serving as spokespeople on behalf of California avocados,” and “we continue to see results of that with ongoing media interviews.”

The commission is involved, as well, in a social media outreach, and that is “continuing to gain speed with followers and fans,” Ms. DeLyser said. “It has been our first year in that arena, and it has been interesting to see consumers advocate and express their love of California avocados on our behalf. We are really looking forward to continuing that in the future.”

Because of continuing requests from media and retailers for direct participation from growers, the commission has been providing that opportunity. “We have done some outreach with growers at point of purchase at retail,” Ms. DeLyser said. That gives growers an opportunity to interact with consumers and to talk to them about “how they grow the fruit and what goes into it, and help them with selection information as well as usage information.”

Media people also “really want to hear from the growers direct,” she said, “so we’ve had a lot of opportunity to have the media come meet with individual growers and capture their story” and tell on-line, through radio, through television.” She expects that to continue into the fall.

(For more on global avocados, see the Aug. 9, 2010, issue of The Produce News.)