Florida avocado businesses look to expand - The Packer

Florida avocado businesses look to expand

08/15/2011 02:01:00 PM
Dan Gailbraith

Florida’s large, green-skinned avocados offer an alternative to the more common hass-type varieties.

The fruits are typically much larger than hass avocados, and their taste is lighter, said Mary Ostlund, marketing director, Brooks Tropicals, Homestead, Fla.

Florida avocados are most plentiful in their home state, but shippers are trying to expand to more states, said Mark Vertrees, marketing director, M&M Tropicals, Miami.

The Florida avocado season began in June, and in late July, the season was going well and availability was expected to last through January, Ostlund said.

Volume is higher compared to the last three years.

Bill Brindle, Brooks’ vice president of sales management, said volume was about 30% above normal.

“We’ve had great weather during the fruit-setting season that really helped the crop along,” Brindle said.

Vertrees said M&M’s crop also is slightly bigger than last year. The quality in late July was good and movement was steady, he said.

In July, Brooks’ new “Relish, it’s not just about pickles” campaign was getting underway, with avocado relish recipes posted on the company blog, website and Facebook page.

The campaign is online only and will include e-mail blasts to writers and editors, Ostlund said.

Brooks’ “Hot off the Grill” campaign, which promotes avocados for outdoor eating, has received good responses from consumers, Ostlund said.

While the grilling recipes were not new for Brooks, they were for the first time this year presented together using the Hot off the Grill theme.

Brooks is pursuing more publicity this season by promoting SlimCados — which it grows in the southernmost part of Florida — to food writers and editors.

Brooks plans to launch a new promotional campaign in mid-August encouraging consumers to use SlimCados for tailgate parties, Ostlund said.

Florida avocados generate a lot of attention, and Brooks is receiving a growing number of e-mails and Web page hits, Ostlund said.

In part, Florida avocado growers can thank the hass avocado market’s high prices for generating more interest in the green-skin avocados, but the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s new “MyPlate” nutritional guidelines also may be responsible for inspiring renewed interest in eating a variety of fruits and vegetables, Ostlund said.

Ostlund and Vertrees said Florida’s avocados’ are lower in calories and fat than hass avocados, which makes them attractive to health-conscious consumers.

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