(April 3, WEB EXCLUSIVE) The Mexican Hass Avocado Importers Association has elected a new board of directors.

Mike Browne, vice president of fresh operations at Santa Paula, Calif.-based Calavo Growers, is the incoming chairman. The avocado association announced his appointment following the groups bimonthly meeting in Irvine, Calif., on March 25.

Browne, one of the original association board members, said in a news release that he was excited about his involvement at a critical time for the industry.

“We are on the doorstep of a significant incremental increase in volume for the entire category,” Browne said in the release. “The industry’s investment in growing demand has managed to stay ahead of supply. MHAIA is a key player, and we are seriously committed to executing positive consumer messaging and timely promotions to ensure continued growth.”

Other board officers and directors are:

  • David Ruiz Vega, vice chairman;

  • Giovanni Cavaletto, secretary;

  • Alfredo Rodriguez, treasurer;

  • J. Jesus Lopez Herrera;

  • Ed Figueroa;

  • Aureliano Pena Esparza; and

  • Doug Meyer

Alternate board members are:

  • Ross Wileman;

  • Mario Rivas Barragán;

  • Avi Crane;

  • Antonio Villaseñor Zurita;

  • Alejandro Alvarez del Toro;

  • Jimmy Lotufo;

  • Sergio Guerreo Urbina; and

  • Phil Henry

The Mexican Hass Avocado Importers Association experienced continued growth in membership and market share under the outgoing board, led by chairman Antonio Villaseñor Zurita. Mexico supplied more than 60% of Hass avocados in the U.S. between March 2008 and March ’09 and more than 80% since Nov. 9, 2008, according to the release.

To support that increased volume, the organization has invested heavily in education and promotion, particularly in the eastern U.S., where consumption is lower relative to high population.