(April 7) The Chilean Avocado Importers Association, Washington, D.C., has ended its promotional agreement with the California Avocado Commission, Irvine.

“The association decided we wanted to work on other options,” said Xavier Equihua, executive director and chief executive officer of the Chilean group. “In the past we were using the CAC formula, which was to put 80% into radio, 5% in public relations and the rest in merchandising. We want to look at other options and change the mix.”

In March, the Chilean group hired the Perishables Group, West Dundee, Ill., to work with an advertising agency, help set goals, objectives and budgets and to hire and maintain merchandisers.

The Perishables Group and the Chilean association were working the week of April 3 to refine a joint proposal from advertising agency Evans, Hardy & Young Inc., Santa Barbara, Calif., and public relations firm Hill & Knowlton, Los Angeles.

Steve Lutz, Wenatchee, Wash.-based executive vice president of the Perishables Group, expected that proposal to be resolved by the end of April.

“We will have merchandisers in place and making calls on the retail trade in July,” he said. “There will be advertising up and running by fall. No doubt about it. There will be ads in place for Labor Day.”

Jorge Covarrubias, vice president of sales for grower-shipper Santa Cruz SA, Santiago, Chile, and chairman of the Chilean association, said the group would receive about $5 million this season for promotions from Hass Avocado Board assessments.

He said Chile was expecting a crop of 13½ million to 14 million packages, with about 11 million going to the U.S. market.

The Chilean season usually starts with light volume in July and picks up in late August, but Covarrubias said Chilean growers planned to delay heavy pickings until mid-September this year and extend the season into March. The idea, he said, is to avoid overlapping peak volumes with California and Mexico.

Covarrubias said the California commission had done a good job promoting Chilean avocados in recent seasons, but the Chilean group wanted more input and control over its own promotions.

Covarrubias said another factor in the association’s decision to take a more proactive role in promotions was a vote by the California commission’s board that rejected an importers association proposal to eliminate the U.S. tariff on Chilean avocados. The Chilean group had pledged to put half of the money it saved back into U.S. avocado promotions.

Covarrubias said the proposal would have saved the Chilean group more than an estimated $7 million in tariffs this season and would have pumped about $3.5 million into avocado promotions in the U.S. market.

Equihua said that tariff was scheduled to be phased out over 12 years, beginning last year.