Choice is the most vital factor to fresh avocado sales success at retail, avocado marketers say.
That’s one way they will look to improve on double-digit growth in sales of their product as the 2014 fall marketing season gets underway.
According to Nielsen Perishables Group data through May 31, per-store avocado sales averaged $1,150, which is 15% higher than a year earlier. Hass avocados, representing 87.8% of sales, carried an average retail price of $1.08, compared to all avocados, at $1.10.
Green avocados were averaging $1.69 apiece and accounted for 4.7% of sales and averaged $54 in weekly sales per store, according to Nielsen.
Options are important to building avocado sales, said Mary Ostlund, director of marketing for Homestead, Fla.-based Brooks Tropicals Inc., which markets green-skin varieties under the SlimCados brand.
“Choice is big. Choice builds category sales,” Ostlund said.
Brooks works with retail customers to make sure the product has ample information with displays, Ostlund said, noting consumers are quick to proactively look up product information.
“Why make them go home and read about the fruit on a computer? Signage and displaying QR codes to be scanned for onsite information puts more avocados into your consumer’s hands when their interest is piqued at the store,” Ostlund said.
Information — in whatever mode it’s conveyed — is important to helping consumers make choices at retail, Dick Spezzano, owner of Spezzano Consulting Service in Monrovia, Calif.
Quick-response codes still have some efficacy, but the sites to which codes link the consumer must be kept up to date, Spezzano said.
“The thing with the QR code with a particular item, it would take you right to the grower’s website or the association and you could get recipes, get coupons and gift cards, which I heard was very effective,” he said.
Some produce suppliers didn’t do an adequate job in that realm, Spezzano said.
“They didn’t keep the information relevant, they didn’t keep it seasonal,” he said. “Like anything that’s online, it has to be relevant and it has to be updated all the time.”
Multiple packs, displays, organics, conventional and fruit sizes are sales builders, too, said Bob Lucy, partner at Del Rey Avocado Co. Inc., Fallbrook, Calif.
“Many conventional retailers are having three displays in the stores,” Lucy said. “They’ll have a small piece of fruit and they’ll have a bagged 15 four, which is 15 bags in a box and four pieces per bag, so what’s really growing in retail is the bagged program in mainline retailers.”
Jessie Capote, vice president/owner, Miami-based J&C Tropicals, says his company works closely with retail customers in building a comprehensive tropical fruit program that includes avocados.
“At retail, we spend a lot of time merchandising and working hand in hand with buyers and mangers, helping them either evolve or break into a tropicals program,” he said.
The company also works closely with wholesalers, Capote said.
“Lots of customer service,” he said.
Competition among retailers is getting more intense, and avocados can help a chain get an edge on rivals, said Jan DeLyser, vice president of marketing for the California Avocado Commission, Irvine.
“Competition at retail continues to grow, consumers have more options than ever before in where they shop,” she said.
If consumers want choices, retailers have to come through, DeLyser said.
“Retailers will need to be relevant in their merchandising with offerings that tap into consumer preference,” she said.