He said he was dismissed as chief executive officer Sept. 12.
"It was not a good fit," he said Oct. 19 at the Produce Marketing Association’s Fresh Summit.
In the meantime, he has started a produce consultant firm and is open to other options in the industry.
He said he and the group were still working out the details of his departure.
Avocados from Mexico combines the U.S.-focused marketing efforts of the Mexican Hass Avocado Importers Association (MHAIA) and Avocado Producers and Exporting Packers Association of Michoacán (APEAM).
Members of the avocado group sought out O'Connor and he joined the organization in April, recruiting his own staff — including representitives from the U.S. Potato Board, where he was CEO for 14 years, and the Chilean Avocado Importers Association — before the official launch of Avocados from Mexico in July. At the time, O’Connor said he wasn’t seeking a career change, but the avocado group made him an offer he “couldn’t refuse.”
When O’Connor joined Avocados from Mexico, MHAIA Chairman Adrian Iturbide Mejia commended O’Connor’s ability lead the development of new strategies for increasing demand. Iturbide called the formation of the new avocado group “one of the most important decisions the Mexican avocado industry” made since U.S. allowed entry of the fruit.
As the head of the potato and avocado groups, O’Connor oversaw multi-million dollar marketing and promotion campaigns; Avocados from Mexico has a budget of $36 million.
Before 1997, Mexican avocados were banned from the U.S. for eight decades, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture started allowing the fruit into some states that year; now they’re allowed in all states and volumes are projected to top 1 billion pounds this season, greatly surpassing Chile’s exports to the U.S.