Schools, fast food increase avocados

09/07/2012 02:07:00 PM
Jim Offner

Chile’s avocado industry is approaching the foodservice sector from multiple angles, marketing agents say.

The program starts with younger consumers in university dining halls and works its way across a variety of restaurant venues, said Maggie Bezart, marketing director of Washington, D.C.-based Chilean Avocado Importers Association.

“We will be continuing in our campus dining promotion, which encourages students to try avocados in a variety of ways,” she said.

Bezart said CAIA last year was able to get each dining service to serve a minimum of five avocado recipes and included a contest for a student to win a gift card at their college stores.

“We have our distributor and operator program that we’ll be running again this year,” she said.

“Those incentivize operators to serve more avocados on their menu and to recommend diners to add more avocados to their menus.”

The focus on college-age diners is a shrewd strategy, said Doug Meyer, sales and marketing director with Temecula, Calif.-based West Pak Avocado Inc.

“Certainly, with the amount of marketing that is done in the United States, the positive benefits of eating avocados and the multi uses of avocados certainly is appealing to the college-age crowd,” he said.

Marketers say they have noticed growth in other foodservice sectors, too.

“Right now, Subway has been doing a phenomenal job with their promotions of fresh avocados in their sandwiches, and other restaurant chains have been doing a great job, as well,” said Phil Henry, owner of Henry Avocado in Escondido, Calif.

Henry said the Denny’s restaurant’s avocado usage in breakfast entrees is creating enthusiasm for new uses.

“There are lots of different usages that restaurants are promoting and advertising, and that’s the key to growth in foodservice,” he said.

Those new applications are creating excitement across the industry, said Ross Wileman, vice president of sales and marketing with Oxnard, Calif.-based Mission Produce Inc.

“When we used to think of foodservice, you knew the Hispanic restaurants were going to be serving guacamole, but we’re seeing a transformation in some of the fast-food groups like Wendy’s, Burger King, starting to move in by using avocados in sandwiches and salads,” he said.

Deli-type venues also are bringing in more avocados, Wileman said.

“We’ve gone from a Mexican cuisine to more universal salads and sandwiches,” he said.



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