Green-skinned avocados claim their own niche - The Packer

Green-skinned avocados claim their own niche

08/16/2010 03:18:43 PM
Tom Burfield

About 96% of the avocados sold in the U.S. are the hass variety, according to the Irvine, Calif.-based Hass Avocado Board. But there’s still a market for a handful of other varieties, most of which are known as green-skinned avocados.

Green-skins include the bacon, fuerte, gwen, macarthur, pinkerton, reed and zurtano varieties.

Shoppers like the hass because of its smooth, creamy texture and great taste, said Jose Luis Obregon, managing director of the Hass Avocado Board.

“It satisfies the consumer,” he said.

But those who market many of the other varieties maintain that their avocados typically have less fat and fewer calories than the hass, they usually cost less, and they’re often larger.

Homestead, Fla.-based Brooks Tropicals says its SlimCados, the brand name under which the company markets its green-skinned avocados, have half the fat and a third of the calories of a California hass avocado.

“We brand it that way because we want people to know that it’s a different-tasting avocado,” said Mary Ostlund, marketing director.

But Ostlund said SlimCados don’t really compete with other varieties.

“They really are a complement,” she said.

They’re lighter fare that consumers might select when topping a salad or hamburger.

Brooks Tropicals can market more than 70 varieties as SlimCados, she said.

Another selling point for the green-skins is their size compared to the hass, said Brandon Gritters, avocado salesman for Interfresh Inc., Fullerton, Calif.

“The green-skins tend to have bigger sizing,” he said.

The green-skins that Interfresh sells come from California, Gritters said, adding that some varieties taste as good as the hass.

Another variety, the lamb hass, resembles the regular hass but is a bit larger and has a pebblier, bumpier skin, Gritters said.

Calavo Growers Inc., Santa Paula, Calif., provides most of the lamb hass avocados, but they still account for only about 1% of the company’s volume, said Rob Wedin, vice president of sales and fresh marketing.

It’s a large piece of fruit, usually size 40 and larger, and is available during a relatively small window — July through October.

Most retailers don’t merchandise lamb hass separately from the hass, and few consumers can tell the difference, he said.

Some organic avocado lovers seek out green-skinned varieties, said John Stair, domestic commodity manager for Pacific Organic Produce in San Francisco.

Organic green-skinned avocados are picked up primarily by small natural food stores that don’t need a large supply, Stair said. And that’s for the best, since heavy supplies of organic green-skins don’t exist.

Natural food stores like having several kinds of avocados, and their customer base often looks for avocados that taste good but are not commonly seen, Stair said.

“People look for things that are different,” he said.

Every avocado variety has its own niche based on flavor or price, said Dana Thomas, president and chief executive officer of Index Fresh Inc., Bloomington, Calif.

Index Fresh is fond of the reed — a fall variety with excellent taste — but the pinkerton has excellent taste in winter, and the bacon and other varieties have their own followings, as well, Thomas said.



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