Several grower-packers pointed to ripening programs as one of the key factors behind foodservice growth. Users know when they receive an avocado order that the fruit is ready to use that day or the next.
“We’ve found in foodservice we’ve developed a lot of loyalty with some of the biggest and best chains and also at the distribution level,” said Rob Wedin, vice president of sales and marketing. “They’ve recognized that we’ve taken that (ripening) duty out of their hands, and they don’t have to worry. It’s a pretty big deal, and one of the sales points.
“When you look at the menu today compared to five years ago or 10 years ago, so many restaurants are carrying avocados now that weren’t back then because they can rely on ripe fruit.”
Fausset said foodservice also is an important outlet for #2 fruit that is fine internally but cosmetically flawed.
“They do take their share of #1 fruit. But what are you going to do with all of that #2 fruit that’s ugly on the outside?” he said. “Foodservice does a good job of moving that #2 fruit.”
Fausset of Mission Produce singled out Denver-based Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. as a large foodservice user of fresh avocados that’s doing a “great job.”
By its own account, Chipotle takes about 4% of the California crop annually.
He also praised Denny’s for changing to fresh avocados from pulp.