( Courtesy Peruvian Avocado Commission )

Xavier Equihua and the Washington, D.C.-based Peruvian Avocado Commission have earned a reputation for innovation when it comes to promoting avocados from Peru.

The commission is one of the few fruit and vegetable boards to use partnerships with sports organizations like the National Football League, Major League Baseball and the World Soccer Cup to promote fresh produce.

In the past, Avocados from Peru created the world’s largest guacamole bowl with the New York Jets and partnered with the U.S. Navy during New York City’s Fleet Week to promote Peruvian avocados to media and diverse audiences.  But things are different this year.

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, Equihua, the commission’s president and CEO, has taken a different approach.

Instead of sampling events and promotions at big public gatherings, Avocados from Peru will offer an e-coupon program for retailers.

“Unique situations require unique approaches,” Equihua said, “so we decided in February to change our marketing approach.”

The commission will offer retailers a major NBC and Fox TV spot program and provide consumers with a wealth of ways to enjoy Peruvian avocados in a new 100-page cookbook entitled “Avocado in Bloom” that Equihua wrote with brand ambassador Colette Dike.

This follows Equihua’s first cookbook entitled “Cooking with Avocados from Peru” in 2015.

The publication will be available through a link or by scanning a special QR code, and it will be promoted by retail partners, social media and other digital platforms.

The first cookbook has been downloaded globally more than 1.2 million times so far and is available in English, Spanish, French, German, Italian, Dutch, Norwegian and Russian.

“We’re trying to adapt to the now,” Equihua said, foregoing the “new normal” cliché, “as things are very fluid and constantly changing.”

“We are taking a very modular marketing approach based on the now — and ‘the now’ is not going to change anytime soon.” 

Peruvian avocados are an ideal food purchase during the pandemic as well as during the forthcoming softening of the shelter-in-place mandates, he said. 

Avocados from Peru last a long time if they’re allowed to mature in the refrigerator, he said. And that’s a plus for consumers who are taking fewer trips to the supermarket. 

The commission also is helping consumers to better understand how to ripen avocados form Peru at home.

Like all avocados, Peruvian avocados are nutrient dense with high good oil content and a wealth of vitamins and minerals, Equihua said.

“Consumers know this, hence avocados are a produce staple especially during the pandemic.”

He encouraged retailers to promote the health benefits of Peruvian avocados and to sell them at a reasonable price so consumers can buy more of them. 

“This is the reason we are offering e-coupons and instant rebates,” he said. “We want to provide incentives to consumers, especially in a period like this.”

Meanwhile, even though foodservice business generally has plummeted because of closures caused by COVID-19, Equihua does not expect the Peruvian avocado industry to be seriously affected by those closures. 

“One of the advantages of avocados from Peru is that our foodservice footprint is strategic in its approach,” he said.

He estimated that up to 30% of avocados industrywide are used in foodservice, but most Peruvian fruit is sold in programs at retail. 

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