HOMESTEAD, Fla. — Florida avocados are finding increasing shelf space in leading U.S. supermarkets.

Retail interest is growing for the green-skinned fruit, grower-shippers report.

“Retailers are trying to expand their avocado category, and we are seeing them do a great job in their merchandising of the fruit,” said Bill Brindle, vice president of sales management for Brooks Tropicals Inc.

Brindle said retail produce managers are cross-merchandising the fruit via erecting guacamole displays, salsa displays and salad displays.

“People who buy avocados do tend to spend more of their overall grocery bill on produce,” he said. “If you’re a retailer getting people to buy more avocados, chances are those consumers are buying more produce, so it’s good news as our retail customers are growing.”

Retailers can add more hass fruit to their displays.

Adding other varieties, however, particularly Florida’s bright green color and smooth-skinned fruit, can help make displays even more versatile, Brindle said.

Brooks ships about 70% of its avocados to retail customers.

For New Limeco LLC in Princeton, retail sales constitutes about half of its movement, said Eddie Caram, general manager.

“Our retail sales are increasing,” he said. “That means consumers are consuming more.”

During the past season, New Limeco spent more resources promoting its fruit, Caram said.

The grower-shipper worked directly with its retail customers to conduct sales and promotions so they could experience increased movement as well, he said.

Caram said he saw more store advertisements this past year and a handful of retail chains did a good job promoting the green-skinned avocados through their weekly advertisements.

He said he never saw that many store advertisements in the past.

Retailers did well last year in merchandising South Florida’s fruit and are becoming more familiar with Florida’s offerings, said Manny Hevia Jr., president and chief executive officer of Miami-based M&M Farm Inc.

“It’s a challenging fruit, but depending on the area of the store, they find it moves well,” he said. “Once they see movement and returns on their investment, you see them carrying it more and more. They can be a little squeamish at first but once they find the product sells for them, they jump right in.”

M&M tries to promote the fruit in certain markets which already buy the grower-shipper’s other tropical fruits, Hevia said.

Retailers constitute 40% of demand for Unity Groves Corp.’s fruit.

To prevent Florida product from getting lost in a sea of tropical fruit and to help accelerate sales, retailers should segregate the fruit and construct mass displays that include distinct signs, said Charles Diaz, director of sales.

“Retailers are doing a lot better with the fruit,” he said. “However, there is still an educational piece on avocados in general. It’s more about understanding and educating the retailers about the Florida avocado.

“The grower has to take a role in that, the same with the wholesaler. We have to continue to educate retailers on the benefits of the fruit.”

About 66% of the avocados sold by Fresh King Inc. ship to retailers.

Alvaro Perpuly, general manager and partner, said it’s up to growers to market their fruit.

“The retailers don’t do a lot of marketing,” he said. “They just put them in the stores. The only marketing they do is by selling the fruit in the stores.”