A number of commodity boards have come with programs designed to support the foodservice industry.

u The California Avocado Commission, Irvine, supports an active menu promotion program for foodservice chain operators, said Jan DeLyser, vice president of marketing.

This year, 25 chains received marketing support for promoting fresh California avocado menu items and featuring the Hand Grown in California logo on point-of-purchase and other materials and media.

“The commission leverages these promotions to loyal California avocado fans looking for opportunities to enjoy their favorite fruit in restaurants,” DeLyser said.

The California Avocado Restaurant Locator, available at californiaavocado.com, describes the promotion and allows customers to search for the closest store location.

u The California Strawberry Commission, Watsonville, was a sponsor of Technomic’s Fast Casual Trends and Directions Conference in Chicago in May, said Chris Christian, the commission’s vice president of marketing. 

The conference was devoted to “helping restaurant operators navigate the foodservice landscape.”

“We have ongoing communications with various chains,” she added, and the commission is working on foodservice projects for next year. 

u The National Mango Board, Orlando, Fla., believes educating chefs about the use of mangoes is the key to increasing volume in foodservice, said Megan McKenna, marketing director.

This summer, the board will offer a mango culinary curriculum to culinary students and instructors as well as practicing chefs.

The mango curriculum, which includes an educational video, will cover selection, ripening, storage, cutting and varieties as well as day part and ripeness level usage, McKenna said. All resources will be available at mango.org/foodservice. 

u The National Watermelon Promotion Board, Orlando, is testing a program for possible rollout at foodservice and retail that will pair watermelon and watermelon recipes with wine, said Gordon Hunt, director of marketing and communications.

The program is part of the board’s effort to show the versatility of watermelons.

“People are amazed with what you can do with watermelons,” he said. “They’re more than just a wedge or a garnish on the plate.”

Watermelons are a cost-effective menu item, he said. Hunt also said he expects to see single-serve watermelon offerings in fast-food restaurants and convenience stores within a year, thanks to new packaging and firmer, more long-lasting varieties.

u The Mushroom Council, San Jose, Calif., has kicked its “blendability” program into high gear with the arrival of the summer grilling season, said Kathleen Preis, marketing coordinator.

The council has partnered with Top Chef All-Stars winner Richard Blais, who will create a Blendability Burger — a blend of mushrooms and beef — at his Atlanta restaurant, Flip Burger Boutique.

The council will conduct national and local media outreach during the summer to promote the partnership.

The council also has been working with Epic Burger, a Chicago-area burger chain.

“They recently launched a Mushroom Monday campaign to correlate with Meatless Monday,” Preis said.

The chain is offering 20% off portabella burgers, and the Mushroom Council is spreading the word about the promotion with in-store merchandising, giveaways, server incentives and social media.

u The U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, Folsom, Calif., is promoting blueberries this summer with ads geared toward foodservice in magazines and on the Web, said spokeswoman Kathy Blake. Web ads will include a link to the council’s website — blueberry.org — where chefs or those making menu decisions can enter to win an iPad mini through September.

The foodservice section of the site features recipes and a kit for campus promotions. The council also has a new foodservice blog — Dynamo Digest — on its website. The blog isn’t limited to blueberries, Blake said.

“It’s what’s going on in the foodservice world now.”

In June, the council invited 16 chefs from hotels, large campuses, the employee dining industry and Disney to the Culinary Institute of America’s Greystone campus in St. Helena, Calif., for a two-and-a-half-day workshop, and the council is expanding its foodservice efforts into Mexico with a presence at the Gourmet Show in Mexico City, she said.