The company works with retailers to help them create successful bag programs, he said.
“Retailers are discovering they can get incremental sales without cannibalizing (avocado sales),” Dowhan said.
About 15% of the firm’s avocado volume is bagged, and the number increases every year, he said.
Emphasis on bulk
Bob Lucy, partner in Del Rey Avocado Co. Inc., Fallbrook, Calif., said as a consumer he prefers bulk to bagged avocados, yet he said the bagged concept has been good for the industry.
“It’s a tremendous opportunity,” he said. “It really helped grow the California avocado category.”
Del Rey Avocado has three bagging machines that constantly run, and Lucy said he probably could use more.
“There’s a lot of people marketing bagged avocados,” he said.
Bags, usually cartons of 15 four-count packages, offer another opportunity for the company to sell avocados, he said, and provide retailers with an option for multiple displays.
Henry Avocado Corp., Escondido, concentrates on its custom ripening program and probably packs less than 5% of its avocados in bags, said president Phil Henry.
Henry attributes the increase in the volume of bagged avocados to favorable price points, effective merchandising and the fact that a number of major chains, including Trader Joe’s and Costco, sell bagged avocados exclusively.
Although Calavo pre-ripens some bags of avocados, Wedin doesn’t recommend it.
Ripened bags sell well, but they have to be carefully monitored at retail, he said.
Some major customers have developed a method of cycling product in displays to offer bags of varying degrees of ripeness.
“They have it down to a science,” he said.