Avocado marketers say they think they finally have reached the kind of summit all commodities strive for. Their product, they say, finds its way to consumers in good economic times and bad.
There are some peaks and valleys, in certain sectors, but avocado demand continues to rise, marketers say.
“I believe it shifts demand sometimes in which in lower economies we may see a decrease in foodservice demand, but an increase in retail since people tend to eat more at home,” said David Fausset, salesman/category manager with Oxnard, Calif.-based Mission Produce Inc.
But even today, when the U.S. economy still has fits and starts, avocado consumption in restaurants has bounced back, Fausset said.
Even when the global economy slid in 2008 and continued to plunge over the next couple of years, avocado sales stayed relatively strong, said Rob Wedin, vice president of sales and marketing with Santa Paula, Calif.-based Calavo Growers Inc.
“When we look at our numbers, when the economy got into trouble, we didn’t see it having as much negative impact on avocado business like it did on so many others,” Wedin said.
The avocado industry continued to grow, in fact, Wedin said.
“Now, as the economy improves, it’s positive, but it really always was,” he said.
Some commodities and categories — organics, for example — saw sales slow or even decrease during the recession, and they have recovered in the last couple of years, Wedin said.
Not so, with avocados, he said.
“We’re not recovering from a bad situation because our situation never did get bad,” he said.
Not that there wasn’t cause for worry, said Dana Thomas, president of Riverside, Calif.-based avocado grower-shipper Index Fresh Inc.
“When we went into the 2008 recession a long time ago, we were concerned about it, but I think we were actually lucky by benefiting from people who’d go to white-tablecloth restaurants and spend a couple of hundred bucks and were shopping stores and buying avocados,” he said.
The Irvine-based California Avocado Commission has tracked consumption trends close, and there never has been any cause for alarm, even in dire economic times, said Jan DeLyser, vice president of marketing for the commission.
“Avocados have held their own throughout,” she said.”The versatility of avocados as well as being a fruit that is perceived as healthy and somewhat of an indulgence may also be factors in their continued growth.”