Core California markets
The Mexican crop overlaps the California crop and was expected to be in the market until May or June. Imports from the Southern Hemisphere also are in the market during part of the California season.
The avocado commission targets core markets and key accounts, many of them in the West, that prefer California fruit, DeLyser said.
Del Rey Avocado, Fallbrook, Calif., began California avocado promotions with key retail accounts in February and will aggressively add more retailers as harvest picks up, said Bob Lucy, partner.
The California Department of Food and Agriculture, which tests avocado maturity, released size 48s Dec. 12.
“So the fruit two months into the season is excellent,” Lucy said in mid-February. “There are a number of chains that have switched over to California fruit. Some people on the East Coast have made the switch too.”
The commission plans several holiday-themed retail promotions throughout the season, beginning with St. Patrick’s Day and running through Labor Day.
Although many think of Cinco de Mayo or Super Bowl Sunday as the top holiday for avocado consumption, DeLyser said the 2012 July Fourth set a record with 86 million pounds from all sources. That compares to this year’s Super Bowl with 79 million pounds.
“It just shows that consumption is growing exponentially in the U.S., and it’s broadening across occasions,” she said. “Just the entire summer holidays — from Memorial Day, July Fourth and Labor Day, where people are getting together, and they’re conscious of their pride in America — the California avocado fits very well in that.”
Dowhan of Giumarra Agricom agreed, saying the warmer months are ripe for retail California avocado promotions.
“Avocados have become the party produce item,” he said. “It’s the perfect item for any type of holiday or three-day weekend or any reason for a get-together. They’ve become very popular for a whole list of holidays.”