( Photo Jeff Sheldon, Source Unslashed )

Commodity boards, commissions and councils have found that partnering with foodservice operations is an effective way to move more of their product.

Here’s what some of those organizations have planned for the coming months.

California Avocado Commission

The California Avocado Commission has been involved with a number of foodservice promotions this summer, some of which still are underway, said Jan DeLyser, vice president of marketing.

The commission was working on three additional promotions for later in the season that had not been finalized as of mid-July.

Current promotions include:

  • Erik’s DeliCafe, through Aug. 30: Promotes the use of fresh California avocados on the menu in sandwiches and salads.
  • Flame Broiler, through Aug. 12: The promotion is for the add-on or upsell with California avocados to any bowl during peak season.
  • Rubio’s, through Aug. 18: Promotes the use of fresh California avocados on the menu during peak season.
  • Super Duper, through Aug. 10: Promotes fresh California avocados on the menu for upsell/add-ons, which are supported with social media, e-mail blast and logo on the website.

Five new California Avocado Commission foodservice promotional partners this season were Sharky’s Woodfired Mexican Grill, Norm’s, Erik’s DeliCafe, Ike’s Love & Sandwiches and Mixt Restaurant.

California Table Grape Commission

In 2020, the California Table Grape Commission is encouraging the use of fresh table grapes in foodservice operations nationwide through a combination of advertising, education, direct outreach to culinary professionals and the foodservice media, said Courtney Romano, the commission’s foodservice consultant.

Print ads are running in Flavor & the Menu magazine to remind chefs of the many ways that grapes can work on a menu, she said.

A new Chef’s Guide now is available as a visual resource guide for chef innovation with grapes, with an emphasis on grape flavor pairings and creative concepts that show how well California grapes work across a menu.

The natural fit of grapes for takeout and delivery also is highlighted.

Outreach to chefs is ongoing, and chef-created recipes are featured in foodservice editorial outlets.

“Fresh grapes offer vibrant color; a crisp, juicy texture; and a balance of sweet and acid that make grapes compatible with a variety of ingredients and dishes,” Romano said.

“Grapes are well-suited to off-premise dining as they hold very well as an ingredient in a dish, and make an easy, fresh side item to accompany any type of cuisine.” 

Mushroom Council

The Blend continues to be the Mushrooms Council’s primary promotional focus, and over the past year the council has expanded its promotional footprint, marketing to new audiences in new places and earning increased blend adoption and sales, said spokesman Eric Davis.

At foodservice, this included collaborating with partners during the pandemic to provide meals for front line workers and first responders, he said.

“Prior to the crisis reaching the U.S., our industry was riding tremendous momentum,” Davis said.

Monthly shipping reports showed a run of record highs in late 2019, driven in part by high demand in the foodservice channel, particularly with adoption of The Blend.

As foodservice began shutting down and/or switching to carry out/delivery, the council began to collaborate with many of its foodservice partners to provide support to those impacted the most by the crisis.  

The Mushroom Council worked with a variety of its foodservice partners – including manufacturers, independents, chains, chef associations and menu developers – to help feed personnel at hospitals, police departments,

EMT units, senior centers and crisis centers, he said.

“We also hear from foodservice that blended burgers are ideal for carry out and delivery thanks to mushrooms’ ability to retain flavor and moisture while burgers are in transit,” Davis said.

National Mango Board

The National Mango Board continues to move mangoes forward in the foodservice industry, said Angela Serna, marketing manager.

“Amid the world crisis, we have focused on mango innovation and flavor as a back-to-basics model for restaurant chefs and operators,” she said.

Over the next few months, the board will focus on recipe development and innovation

“We will continue to leverage industry trends and industry professionals for this,” Serna said. “Expect to see similar collaborations as our recent partnership with Kitchen Collaborative, where we sponsored chef recipes in partnership with a trade magazine.” 

The board also will continue to push and offer resources to increase mango quality and education through the supply chain, she said.

“We know that for operators consistency is key, and we will work with industry partners to help bridge those challenges.” 

The board will continue to work with operators for innovation and ideas that will work now or in the future as businesses safely reopen, she added.

“We know that going back to basics but also differentiating dishes will be important,” Serna said. “Therefore, our continued work with chefs and mixologist will play a key role in innovation and inspiration for the industry.”

National Watermelon Promotion Board

After five years of cultivating relationships throughout the foodservice industry, the National Watermelon Promotion Board is not waiting to see what happens as restaurants pivot to a new normal but continue to offer watermelon as a solution on menus, said Megan McKenna, senior director of marketing and foodservice.

“As outreach continues to chains offering education, menu ideation and promotional support, there was a need to address the abundant operational shift of increased takeaway and delivery,” she said.

Starting with research, a new handout highlights watermelon’s growth on menus as well as consumers’ thoughts on watermelon on the menu.

Second, operators will find information on handling the product.

Lastly, watermelon recipes and recipe images will inspire operators to think about using watermelon in takeaway and delivery-friendly menu items, McKenna said.

The new tool is being used in direct outreach to chains across the country and will be highlighted through digital advertising focused on regional and national chains.

“Response has been positive for continued watermelon ideation and promotions moving into the summer months,” she said.