(Aug. 22) IRVINE, Calif. — Funding to promote Chilean avocados in the U.S. has more than tripled this year with the bulk of the money going to a radio advertising campaign.

This season’s funding totals $3.7 million, compared to $900,000 in 2001 and $1 million in 2002.

The promotional campaign is conducted by the California Avocado Commission on behalf of the Chilean Avocado Importers Association from late August through January.

The campaign — featuring a $3 million radio ad program — will help move a projected 225 million-pound Chilean hass avocado crop this season.

It is the third year the commission has provided marketing services for the Chilean avocado industry. The Chilean avocado association is in its first year of operation and a 2.5 cent per pound assessment on U.S.-bound Chilean avocados helped boost promotion dollars this season.

The marketing plan builds on promotional efforts of both associations, said Jan DeLyser, vice president of merchandising for the California Avocado Commission.

“With the additional Chilean support, we have a tremendous opportunity to generate increased demand for avocados during the fall and winter months,” she said.

The campaign begins with the Labor Day holiday Sept. 1 and concludes with the Super Bowl Feb. 1. Radio advertising will run from August through January in major markets in Arizona, California, Texas, Oregon and Washington. Ads will run for three weeks in each of the six months.

New radio markets have been added this season, including Riverside, Calif., Dallas, Seattle and Portland, DeLyser said.

The ads run 40 seconds each and offer avocado usage ideas including outdoor cooking and holiday entertaining. Retailers that feature hass avocados in their weekly ads will receive 20-second retail-specific radio tags tied to the avocado advertisements.

Jim Donovan, vice president of international operations for Mission Produce Inc., Oxnard, said the timing of the Chilean campaign is excellent and will benefit both Chilean and California avocados.

The Chilean season runs counter to the U.S. season with major hass production running from late summer through winter. California’s strongest production is from spring through summer.

An avocado recipe program will augment the radio ads and include salsa for Labor Day, kid’s snacks for back to school, “All-Star AvoDogs” for baseball’s World Series, recipes for the holidays and a celebrity chef media tour. Special emphasis will be placed on Super Bowl Sunday, the top day of the year for avocado consumption.