Avocado marketers say retailers play perhaps the most important role in keeping sales brisk.

As inducements, there are educational programs and point-of-sale materials for consumers, display contests for produce managers and pricing strategies to keep impulse purchases going, marketing agents say.

It’s a busy category, said Stan Steppa, president of Magruder Inc., a Rockville, Md.-based retail chain that has stores around the Washington, D.C.-metro area.

“It’s a booming category,” he said.

Displaying the product is easy, Steppa said.

“We do a good job with avocados. We sell the ripe ones as fast as we can put them up there,” he said.

They’re priced to sell, Steppa added.

“We had an ad this week where we advertised them at 98 cents each, while everybody else in the city has them for $1.49 or $1.89,” he said.

Point-of-sale materials help educate shoppers about the product, which leads to sales, said retail consultant Ed Odron, owner of Ed Odron Produce Marketing Consulting in Stockton, Calif.

“The California Avocado Commission truly does a great job, arguably the best of any other commodity, because they provide retailers with point-of-sale material,” Odron said.

The key for the retailer is to tie into these many offerings and take advantage of the information provided,” Odron said.

“Then, of course, heavily promote with ads, in ad recipes, large end cap displays and tie-ins to various salad items, i.e., tomatoes, packaged mixes for guacamole, lettuces and also various proteins such as shrimp, chicken, turkey, etc.”

Odron said retailers don’t have to “reinvent the wheel” when it comes to merchandising avocados.

“They know avocados provide great sales and profits to the produce departments,” he said.

Lower prices are good news for retailers, said Ross Wileman, vice president of sales & marketing for Oxnard, Calif.-based Mission Produce Inc.

“They always get excited at lower prices so they can promote more, but more importantly, they know there’s going to be good supplies, so they can promote,” Wileman said.