Sales of Mexican avocados are picking up steam outside their traditional base in the West and Southwest and even jumping across another U.S. border to the north.
Category growth in the Midwest, the Northeast and the Southeast “is some of the largest growth we’re seeing for avocado consumption,” said Bruce Dowhan, general manager for Giumarra Agricom International LLC, Escondido, Calif., a division of The Giumarra Cos., Los Angeles.
Dowhan attributes some of that growth to the versatility of avocados.
“People are using them in more ways than in the past,” he said.
Avocados have been synonymous with guacamole for years, but now they’re showing up in sandwiches, on pizza and even in avocado eggrolls, he said.
East Coast sales up
The Northeast and Southeast continue to be the fastest-growing areas in the U.S. for avocado consumption, said Rob Wedin, vice president of sales and fresh marketing for Calavo Growers Inc., Santa Paula, Calif.
Places like Louisville, Ky., and Columbus, Ohio, as well as Virginia and the Carolinas are becoming avocado hotbeds.
“That’s where I’m feeling a new pull,” he said. “The East has been increasing its pull for quite a while, and now (it’s) the central part of the country.”
California, Texas and cities like Phoenix, Seattle, Salt Lake City and Portland, Ore., have been the traditional avocado the stalwarts, Wedin said.
“We’re seeing good growth in the East,” said Ross Wileman, vice president of sales and marketing for Mission Produce Inc., Oxnard, Calif.
In the past, Eastern states typically were small users of avocados, he said.
“There’s a dramatic change occurring because of the word getting out to the consumer about the nutritional value of avocados,” he said.
The Northeast is the fastest-growing area for avocado sales for Green Earth Produce, Vernon, Calif., said Gahl Crane, director of avocado sales.
The Southeast also remains strong because of its growing Latino population combined with improved availability and high-quality product, he said.
North of the other border
Sales also are on the rise in the Great White North.
“The demand for avocados is growing in Canada,” Dowhan said.
“I think the promotional boards from Mexico, California and Chile have done a very good job of communicating the versatility of the product to the public,” he said. “We’re seeing real results from that.”