At the heart of the Hass Avocado Board’s marketing efforts is a topic that unifies producers in all countries of origin: nutrition.
“This year, we’re taking a different approach,” said Emiliano Escobedo, executive director with the Irvine, Calif.-based board.
The board approved the nutrition-only approach in June, said Escobedo, who arrived as director in January.
“We got involved in nutrition research a couple of years ago, and we’re starting to see some results published,” he said.
It’s a strong means to build the avocado category while gaining universal support of the industry, Escobedo said.
“Basically, with the nutritional marketing strategy, it’s single-minded and will add value to the consumer and build awareness,” he said.
That role is foundational to the board, he added.
It’s a bit of a change in strategy, he said.
“We had these programs like joint-promotional programs, but we know that model changes,” he said, noting, for example that tailgating may not be as popular in one market as it is in another.
“We’re learning from the challenges in the past and had to identify the marketable attribute that is constant, regardless of the time of year,” he said.
The board found nutritional benefits to fit that need.
“It can compete regardless of where the fruit comes from,” Escobedo said.
He said the focus on nutrition is a marketing strategy that makes efficient use of all resources for all participants.
The nutritional program is focused on specific areas, including heart health, weight management/diabetes and lifestyle.
“It’s interesting, because avocados have such a broad utility for health,” Escobedo said.
How broad remains to be seen, since numerous studies are still ongoing and the results aren’t due out until next year, Escobedo said.
However, he said, there’s enough evidence coming in to help the board build its new marketing program.
He cited a recent study from Harvard University and the National Institutes of Health that found avocados and olive oil provide more monounsaturated fat than any other food.
A handful of other studies are anticipated next year, Escobedo said.
“We’ll have some published perhaps at the end of 2012, but next year, we’ll see them, and they’re going to show the benefit of consuming avocados,” Escobedo said.
The board’s new focus is getting support from the industry.
“It’s important to teach customers about the healthy attributes of avocados. It’s something a lot of people don’t know,” said Adolfo Ochagavía, president of the Chilean Hass Avocado Committee.
The findings on monounsaturated fat has gotten people’s attention said Jan DeLyser, vice president of marketing for the Irvine, Calif.-based California Avocado Commission.