Florida avocado growers know what they’re up against when it comes to unpredictable weather and hurricane season.
“It’s all part of being a farmer. These are the challenges we meet,” said Mary Ostlund, marketing director for Brooks Tropicals Inc., Homestead, Fla.
“The hurricane season is with us every year and we never know what’s going to happen,” said Bill Schaefer, vice president of marketing for Fresh King Inc., Homestead.
“When the weather forecasters tell us we have a high probability of getting hit, everyone harvests as fast as they can, and that creates a short-term glut,” he said.
But retail markets are able to take advantage of the weather risks growers face and offer Florida avocado promotions and reduced costs to consumers when supply hits its peak starting in July and extending into August.
“People want to beat the hurricane season,” Schaefer said. “That’s the reason why there’s so much fruit harvested in July and August.”
Growers will have fruit all the way through, he said, but those are the two biggest months and the best opportunity to promote the product and give consumers the best value and lowest price.
Focusing on nutrition
To encourage more consumers to take advantage of those promotions, growers, shippers and marketers tend to focus on the Florida avocado’s health and nutrition aspects.
“To build SlimCado sales, it only takes a sign,” Ostlund said in an e-mail. “What consumer wouldn’t stop to read ‘half the fat and a third fewer calories’? But you’ve got to post the sign to get them to read it.”
The SlimCados often turn heads for their large size and the nutritional aspect, even leading consumers to reach out directly to the company to find more information about the green-skinned avocado, Ostlund said.
“I get e-mails, Facebook entries and blog comments asking about SlimCados. People want to know the who, what, why and where of this avocado, and nutritional facts are always the lead-in question,” she said in an e-mail.
Ostlund works with social media outlets, food bloggers, cookbook authors and other culinary professionals to help the SlimCado get more interest and to help consumers learn to recognize and look for the Florida varieties in addition to the hass.
Dori Blonder who does sales and marketing for New Limeco LLC, Princeton, Fla., is also attempting to take advantage of the Florida avocado’s health benefits.
“We are trying to offer as much health information, recipes and uses to all U.S. customers (as we can),” she said in an e-mail.
Growers are pleased with the results these efforts have had, noting increased sales and a growing demand.
“Most people used to think of avocados as just a guacamole-type dip, but I think we’re seeing a lot more exposure than ever before. They’re used for sandwiches and salads, too,” said Steve Kiral, fresh fruit sales manager for Uncle Matt’s Organic, Clermont, Fla.