When it comes to the value-added area, avocado growers, shippers and marketers look to old and new means for making sales.
The heart of the category includes ripening programs that have been around in one form or another for decades at some companies.
Ripening programs are a foundation of the value-added business, some marketers say.
“We’re continuing to get new customers to sign up for our ripening program,” said Rob Wedin, vice president of fresh sales and marketing for Calavo Growers Inc., Santa Paula, Calif.
“We now get them to try and test our verified internal pressure that we are still exclusive packers, sellers that are using that process. And we’re continuing to make believers out of more and more people in the market. They see increased sales velocity and reduced shrink.”
Wedin described Calavo’s ripening program as the flagship of its avocado sales.
“We encourage retailers and foodservice distributors more to adapt a genuine ripe program and it just pays dividends incredibly,” he said.
“About 40% or more that we sell have gone through some ripening process, but we have some customers who do their own ripening process. We have coached them and tried to help them attain maturity and flavor levels of the avocados. They’re getting so they know they’re doing a good job.”
Phil Henry, president of Henry Avocado Corp., Escondido, Calif., said his company was a pioneer in ripening.
“Of course, our company started that almost 30 years ago, with the first ripening room in the industry, so we got the technology going and then we started going out and marketing,” he said.
The idea took some time to catch on, Henry said.
“In those days, it wasn’t an instant success — let’s put it that way — but it’s grown over the years, and now it’s very well accepted,” he said.
Henry Avocado ripens more than 80% of the product it sells, Henry said.
“We’re continuing to grow with that as we add more ripening capabilities,” he said.
Giovanni Cavaletto, vice president of operations for Bloomington, Calif.-based Index Fresh Inc., said ripening is a key sales tool.
“Research has shown that helps increase velocity at retail level by 200% to 300%,” he said.
Another value-added concept that seems to be gaining consumer acceptance is bags, Henry said.
“I think it helps, because sometimes the bags are better value than the loose,” he said.