Super Bowl drives avocado demand

01/09/2006 12:00:00 AM
Chris Koger

(Jan. 9) The thermometer might tell a different story, but Detroit will be hot the first week of February.

Long before the Super Bowl kickoff Feb. 6, the Detroit Produce Terminal will be bustling with activity as wholesalers meet demand for avocados and vegetables from sports fans pouring into the Motor City. Game week features parties where fresh-cut vegetable trays and guacamole will compete with chips and other snacks for stomach space.

“I think it’s going to be good food business all the way around,” said Mike Badalament, salesman for R.A.M. Produce Distributors Inc., Detroit. “You have the Super Bowl parties at home because not everyone’s lucky enough to get a ticket.”

That’s why Detroit’s produce movement is just a fraction of what will be happening across the country, said Vicky St. Geme, director of retail marketing for Mann Packing Co. Inc., Salinas, Calif. Mann Packing will be assembling more 3 ½- and 2 ½-pound trays featuring broccoli, celery, carrots, stringless sugar snap peas and grape tomatoes.

“You’ll definitely see an increase in shipments in support of it because the produce department obviously wants to capture some of the sales away from the salty snack treats,” St. Geme said. “One way to do that is to promote and feature vegetable trays.”

The Super Bowl spurs more avocado consumption than any other period, and Jan DeLyser, vice president of marketing for the California Avocado Commission, Irvine, said an estimated 49.5 million pounds of imported and California avocados are expected to be shipped in the 2½ weeks preceding the game.

“There will be a public relations outreach in the marketplace to scale up promotional activities,” DeLyser said Jan. 3. “Starting this week, you have week after week of playoffs in multiple cities and that creates wonderful opportunities for people to get together. These occasions provide consumption events for hass avocados.”

Fresh-cut fruit also will see a sales surge, said Matt Smith, vice president of marketing for Del Monte Fresh Produce NA Inc., Coral Gables, Fla. Del Monte Fresh markets vegetable trays as well as fruit trays featuring cut pineapple, grapes, melons and apples.

“We see strong boosts in both fruit and vegetable trays,” said Smith, who joined Del Monte in November, succeeding John Loughridge, who moved to a different part of the company. “We see strong demand throughout the playoffs, when lifts can exceed 100% of weekly sales.”

GREEN GOLD

On Jan. 16, the California Avocado Commission will post recipe and Super Bowl party information on its Web site. Across the nation, retailers will feature avocado promotions.


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