The avocado bruffin is a concept the Irvine-based California Avocado Commission is introducing to foodservice operators, says Jan DeLyser, vice president of marketing. ( Courtesy California Avocado Commission )

A number of commodity boards, councils and commissions are planning a variety of promotional activities aimed at foodservice this summer. Here’s a look at some of them.


California Avocados

The California Avocado Commission, Irvine, has a full plate of foodservice activity this summer concurrent with peak California avocado season, said Jan DeLyser, vice president of marketing.

Menu promotions and limited-time offers with prominent chains such as Del Taco, Farmer Boy’s, Denny’s and Marie Callender’s began in the spring, and some continue past Labor Day, she said.

Also, the commission will participate in five conferences/trade shows inspiring chain menu developers and corporate chefs with trend-forward menu concepts featuring California avocados.

In August, the commission will host operators from 18 restaurant chains for a two-day grove tour and culinary adventure with the theme “Wish They All Could be California.”


California Grapes

The California Table Grape Commission, Fresno, will provide chefs with menu ideas each month during grape season via Recipe Watch, a targeted, opt-in foodservice email, said Jeff Cardinale, vice president of communications.

Chef-tested ideas also are provided on the Grapes Make the Plate section of the Culinary Institute of America’s Prochef website.

In August, California grapes will be featured at the Culinary Institute of America’s Appetites and Innovation conference, designed for chefs in retail foodservice.

“Retail foodservice is a growing segment and grapes are a viable solution for chefs here, whether in a deli salad or in a meal kit,” said Cindy Plummer, vice president of domestic marketing for the commission.

This fall, California grape promotions are planned with colleges and universities; with restaurant chain Wow Cafes; and with Restaurant Associates, a leading hospitality company, as well as dining venues in museums and other cultural locations.


Idaho Potatoes

The Idaho Potato Commission, Eagle, had a presence at the Produce Marketing Association’s Foodservice Conference and Expo July 27-30, said Don Odiorne, vice president of foodservice.

The commission co-sponsored the Women in Leadership reception where chef Dave Woolley made custom Idaho potato recipes.

The commission also will be a platinum sponsor of The Flavor Experience Aug. 12-15 and will demonstrate a number of recipes to chain account foodservice chefs.

In June, chef Raghavan Iyer presented a workshop session on how Idaho potatoes fit into a teaching curriculum for ethnic recipes for culinary school educators at the Center for the Advancement of Foodservice Education conference in Milwaukee.



The Mushroom Council, Redwood Shores, Calif., is in the fourth year of the James Beard Foundation’s Blended Burger Project, said Steve Solomon, foodservice director.

The Blended Burger Project challenges restaurants nationwide to create and menu burgers featuring at least 25% chopped, cultivated mushrooms.

Through July 31, hundreds of restaurants were serving their own version of a blended burger and customers can visit participating restaurants to try a blended burger and vote for their favorites online.

In August, judges will review the 20 burgers with the most online votes and select five top winners. In the fall, the winning restaurants’ chefs will serve their burgers at a celebratory event at the James Beard House in New York City.



The National Mango Board, Orlando, Fla., ranks product education high on its list of foodservice marketing objectives, said Angele Serna, marketing manager.

Industry events that the board sponsors to educate members of the menu development team (culinary, marketing, supply chain) include the National Restaurant Association Marketing Executives Group Meeting, The Center for the Advancement of Foodservice Education Leadership Conference, The Flavor Experience and PMA Foodservice.

These events provide the perfect forum to educate attendees in real time about the year-round season, handling, ripening and sourcing of mangoes and allow sampling of trend-forward recipes that inspire commercial and non-commercial operators to add mango to their menus, she said.



The National Watermelon Promotion Board, Winter Springs, Fla., will reach out to foodservice culinary, marketing, purchasing and nutrition decision-makers through media, events, promotions, menu ideation sessions and education with the goal of getting more watermelon on menus, said Megan McKenna, director of foodservice.

The board will continue media partnerships with the Culinary Institute of America ProChef Series, the International Foodservice Editorial Council and others to reach foodservice industry members in the media they read every day, she said.



The U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council, Folsom, Calif., convened its seventh annual Blueberry Culinary Deep Dive July 20-23, said Victoria De Bruin, marketing manager.

Eight executive chefs from high-volume chain operations were invited to the Culinary Vegetable Institute in Milan, Ohio, for a three-day immersion into all-things blueberry that let the chefs explore new ideas for menu items and encourages greater use of various blueberry forms.

In addition to hands-on kitchen experimentation, foodservice operators had the opportunity to work one-on-one with the council’s research and development partner chef Andrew Hunter to collaborate on custom blueberry menu ideas for their operations.

For the first time, the weekend included a visit to a local blueberry farm.