Restaurant demand for Mexican avocados sends suppliers scrambling

11/04/2011 02:07:00 PM
Jim Offner

Demand for Mexican avocados continues to rise, including in the restaurant sector, according to marketers of the product.

“Foodservice is very important to us, as the immigration patterns have shown us over the last 10 years,” said Giovanni Cavaletto, vice president of operations for Index Fresh Inc., Bloomington, Calif.

“We’ve seen interest in Mexican food grow tremendously across the entire country and not just in your historical Southwest states. You’re seeing a Mexican restaurant in every town throughout Alabama, Kentucky, South Carolina, that is introducing avocados to a lot of people who never would have had them before.”

There’s plenty of room for more growth, said Emiliano Escobedo, marketing director for APEAM, the organization representing avocado exporters from Michoacan, Mexico.

“In foodservice, we’re working closely with partners, a lot with the institutions and cafeterias, the corporate dining services,” he said.

“We’re running a program with Restaurant Associates. They basically service major diners in New York.”

Quick-service chains, such as Subway, have introduced avocados to their menus, and customers are responding, some marketers say.

“We’re getting more and more of the restaurant companies who did not serve avocados in the past, more and more of them are serving fresh avocados,” said Rob Wedin, vice president of fresh sales and marketing for Calavo Growers Inc., Santa Paula, Calif.

“From, obviously, situations with people like Subway, the foodie restaurants, a lot of the chain Mexican restaurants are serving fresh avocados.”

That is certain to lead to additional sales of avocados, Wedin said.

“The restaurant industry leads consumers oftentimes in new uses,” he said.

“If you have avocado on your tuna fish sandwiches when you eat out, you’re much more inclined to serve that at home when before you did that you never served avocados with tuna fish sandwiches. A lot of new usages are in the restaurant trade, for sure, and definitely not just at the Mexican restaurants.”

Demand was up in spite of higher-than-usual prices a year ago, so there is reason to expect even more calls for avocados in 2011 and 2012, when prices having fallen, said Chris Henry, sales and marketing director for Giumarra Agricom International, a division of Los Angeles-based The Giumarra Cos.

“I think that foodservice, they’re really trying to get avocados onto the menus, and I think you’re going to see the reintroduction of avocados on menus because the price is so conducive,” he said.



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