Many buyers prefer Florida-grown avocados over the hass varieties, at least for use as a salad ingredient, Caram said.
The appeal of regionally grown produce should also help spur sales, said Peter Leifermann, salesman for Fresh King Inc.
“Add the fact that this product is grown in the U.S., it becomes a no-brainer for consumers,” he said. “With all the concerns of the health effects of imported produce, especially out of Mexico, I think the feeling of safety the consumer gets when they see something grown in the U.S. is real. It’s something that the Florida avocado offers — the reassurance that it’s grown under the stringent demands of the U.S.”
Leifermann said the true value of Florida avocados is their large physical size. That size, he said, with its lower caloric and fat counts, provides shoppers with more value.
Take strawberries. Leifermann said shoppers don’t find one size of strawberry and then another 3½ times as big.
Produce rarely gets that opportunity to compare sizes, especially when they’re being sold at retail for the same price, he said.
“You couldn’t ask for a better example of true value,” Leifermann said. “Size does matter in this case. If you go into a grocery store and will spend $1.98 on an avocado, will you get less than a half a pound of an avocado, or will you get a 1½ pound avocado?
“On top of that, the Florida avocado doesn’t have the calorie count typical of the hass. We in the industry are all proud of that. We at Fresh King, Brooks, New Limeco, etc. are proud of our avocados’ properties. We think the consumer is looking for this kind of value, especially in today’s economy.”
Avocados have also benefited from increasing consumer awareness of health benefits.
“It’s been a great year for avocados as health professionals continue their recognition of avocados as having monosaturated fat, which is considered good fat,” said Mary Ostlund, Brooks’ director of marketing. “With doctors recommending that fat, even good fat, should be eaten in moderation — up to 70 calories a day — avocado lovers double their health-conscious servings by eating SlimCados.”
Though the season hadn’t started yet, Ostlund said consumers in May were already asking for SlimCados.
Going beyond being an essential ingredient in Latin cooking, the SlimCado has provided health-conscious inspiration for mainstream recipes from appetizers to salads to entrees, she said.
In contacting Brooks, several consumers appeared distressed and asked why the company genetically modifies its fruit to make it more healthful. Brindle said Brooks had to explain that the healthy aspects of the avocados are natural characteristics inherent in the fruit and that no genetic modification is performed.