In the past few years, Chilean avocado promotions have focused heavily on college football, with a marketing climax at the Fiesta Bowl.

That will change this year, as marketing plans take a turn toward the basics, said Adolfo Ochagavía, president of the Chilean Hass Avocado Committee.

“This year, the CAIA will focus its resources in programs that will focus on giving support to retailers,” he said.

That’s more a direct, proven route to marketing success, Ochagavia said.

“We expect to increase sales this way, since the market growth in the U.S. looks attractive,” he said.

Not abandoning football

Chile hasn’t scuttled college football as a marketing venue, but it’s just not the direction to take this year, Ochagavia said.

Whether Chile is actively involved in football-related promotions, the sport and avocados have developed a strong bond, said Gary Caloroso, marketing director with Escondido, Calif.-based Giumarra Agricom International.

“A wonderful emotional connection between football fans and guacamole has been built over the years,” Caloroso said. “Our hope is that folks will continue to enjoy guacamole and also look at all of the other great ways to use avocados during all of their meals and snacking occasions.”

The Chilean Hass Avocado Committee plans to invest resources in promoting Chile’s burgeoning domestic market.

“We see opportunities,” Ochagavia said.

Focus on quality, nutrition

The chief priority is to focus on quality issues this year, Ochagavia said.

“We are running our dry matter test program, and we will invest in a local campaign focused in Santiago, and, finally, we hope to increase our shipments to the U.S., compared to the previous season,” he said.

The latest nutritional findings from the Hass Avocado Board also will be incorporated into Chile’s marketing program, Ochagavia said.

“We have received some information on very interesting nutritional findings, and we are reviewing them in Chile and planning how to use them in the domestic market,” he said.

Pushing product in Chile, Brazil

The U.S. remains Chile’s primary market for promotions, but Chile is finding some ready customers closer to home, which will affect shipper decisions, said Karen Brux, marketing director with the Chilean Avocado Importers Association.

“A small promotional program will run this year in Chile, with promotional material distributed in key markets, a few outdoor billboards and demonstration of avocado recipes on select TV morning shows, and some recent good news is that Brazil just opened their phytosanitary boundaries for Chilean avocados,” Brux said.

Consumption in Brazil is relatively low, but that country is showing potential for growth, Brux said.

U.S. shippers, meanwhile, say they will back up any association promotions with their own complementary programs.

“We try to be informed of what the CAIA is doing so we can be a conduit for our customers to make sure they get involved in programs that make sense for them,” said Chris Varvel, sales/distribution manager with Escondido-based Henry Avocado Corp.

Riverside, Calif.-based Index Fresh Inc. takes a similar tack, said Dana Thomas, president.

“We participate and work with them so that when they put together a merchandising event with customers that we supply, we make sure we’re supporting that,” he said.