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California avocado industry launches on-fruit branding program

The California Avocado Commission has launched an exciting on-fruit branding program that will clearly identify California avocados as from California and provide close linkage to CAC’s marketing campaign. Several avocado handlers will be applying the new California avocado labels to their fruit this season.Avos-w-CA-Label

CAC is also readying its Western-focused marketing and merchandising campaign to start in late April. Additionally, national support for the season start includes public relations, online, social media and CAC’s new blog, The Scoop.

“Spring is my favorite time of year because the California Avocado season is starting," Jan DeLyser, CAC vice president of marketing, said in a press release. "CAC is back with marketing support that resonates with consumers and encourages demand."

The stepped-up callout of California origin has been a long time coming and is in response to the rise in consumers’ interest in locally grown produce and checking for country of origin. The commission also conducted retail tests in 2013 to determine consumer response to the labels. The positive consumer reaction led to the rollout with the California handlers, resulting in assorted programs featuring the California-branded labels.

Headshot IvyStarkChef Ivy Stark“The California avocado handlers have been open to the research and to the exploration of how to support the program," said DeLyser. "Each packingline is different so it is not a one-size-fits-all program. Adding a second label to the fruit or changing their labelling practices to include the 'California' brand during California season is no small feat, but they understand the value this information provides to encourage consumers to purchase more avocados.”

CAC public relations activity gets under way in April with a consumer press release and mat release announcing the start of California avocado season. The releases also promote California avocados as an ingredient for healthy snacks and include avocado nutrition messaging. CAC registered dietitian ambassador Katie Ferraro developed four easy and delicious “100-calorie snack” recipes in support of the program.

The week of April 14 CAC will host a series of season-opener live chats on its popular Facebook page, which has more than a quarter of a million fans. California avocado grower Doug O’Hara will be the guest host April 14. He will discuss growing avocados in the Golden State. Registered dietitian Emily Schiller will be the host April 16, when she will chat with fans about avocado nutrition, with an emphasis on snacking. Wrapping up the week on April 18 is Chef Ivy Stark, who will talk with fans about cooking with avocados. Avocado usage ideas from Chef Stark’s new book, "Dos Caminos Tacos," make the perfect segue way into one of the biggest consumption events of the year for avocados, Cinco de Mayo.

California avocado fans can join the chats to ask questions, share ideas and comment for a chance to win prizes, including fresh California avocados and Chef Stark’s new book. The contest and event are being publicized via CAC’s new blog, The Scoop, promoted Facebook posts, an email newsletter and recurring social media posts.

DeLyser noted that the California avocado crop this season is expected to be in the neighborhood of 300 million pounds, which is in the “average-size” crop range. Harvest timing will mean a condensed season compared to last year, with good availability from late-April through early September.