( File photo )

The popularity of avocados continues to grow, and there's no end in sight, at least that Jan DeLyser, vice president of marketing for the Irvine-based California Avocado Commission, can see.

Per capita consumption has risen to 7 pounds, and the Hass Avocado Board has set a goal of doubling that figure by 2021, pouring 4.3 billion pounds of avocados into the U.S. marketplace from the U.S., Mexico, Chile and Peru.

"We've got a lot of room to grow," DeLyser said.

"What's really encouraging about avocado consumption is that the heavy consumers have become super consumers that are now becoming mega consumers," she said.

"You're seeing consumers who know avocados and enjoy avocados eat even more avocados."

That is occurring in what the commission refers to as "well-established markets."

In addition, there's growth potential in "new-demand markets," she said.

"I don't feel as though we've reached saturation," DeLyser said.

She attributes some of the category growth to new, creative uses for avocados beyond guacamole.

At the same time, holidays and special occasions increasingly are becoming avocado occasions.

Avocado consumption for the Fourth of July has skyrocketed, she said, with a 40% to 45% increase since 2012.

"Once you start incorporating usage into events and activities that people are already having, you see consumption go up," she said.

She expects the growth to continue thanks to the marketing dollars that are going into avocado promotions.

Programs are planned this year in Oregon, Washington, Salt Lake City, Phoenix and possibly Denver in addition to California, she said.

"CAC is working with the Avocado Marketing and Research Information Center handlers (those who handled a minimum of 1% of the previous year's total California crop volume) to align distribution with key accounts in California and adjacent states who have demonstrated loyalty to and a willingness to pay a premium for California avocados," DeLyser said.

The commission also will continue to attract consumers by including nutrition communication as part of its marketing program.

"We're striving to identify consumers (to whom) California matters and reach out to them," she said.