The California Avocado Commission (CAC) has launched an 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.
CAC also is readying its western-focused marketing and merchandising campaign to start later this month. 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. CAC is back with marketing support that resonates with consumers and encourages demand,” said Jan DeLyser, CAC’s VP of marketing.
The stepped-up call out 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, according to CAC. The commission also conducted retail tests in 2013 to determine consumer response to the labels. The positive consumer reaction led to the roll out with the California handlers resulting in assorted programs featuring the California-branded labels.
“The California avocado handlers have been open to the research and to the exploration of how to support the program. Each packing line is different so it is not a one-size-fits-all program,” said DeLyser. “Adding a second label to the fruit or changing their labeling 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 this month 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 “100-calorie snack” recipes in support of the program.
Beginning next week, CAC will host a series of season-opener live chats on its Facebook page, which has more than a quarter of a million fans. On April 14, California avocado grower Doug O’Hara will be the guest host, discussing growing avocados in the Golden State. Registered dietitian Emily Schiller hosts on April 16 to 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 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, according to CAC.
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 Stark’s new book. The contest and event are being publicized via CAC’s “The Scoop” blog, promoted Facebook posts, an email newsletter and recurring social media posts.
DeLyser notes that the California avocado crop this season is expected to be around 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.