Chips, tomatoes, cheese, meats, salad ingredients and condiments are just a few items with which avocados are a natural cross-promotional partner, according to avocado marketing agents.

"Through the years we have done lots of cross-merchandising with avocados, for example with Tostitos in the U.S. last season," said Adolfo Ochagavía, president of the Chilean Hass Avocado Committee in Santiago.

Driving impulse sales

Indeed, he said, Chilean avocados have been cross-marketed with ingredients in Hispanic dishes, with bread, tomatoes and other staples,

Coral Gables, Fla.-based Brooks Tropicals LLC employs cross-merchandising ideas with its SlimCados regularly, said Mary Ostlund, the company"s marketing director.

"Cross-merchandising limes with SlimCados and other avocados will make intuitive sense to the shopper," she said.

Salsa is becoming an effective partner, Ostlund said.

Retailers will find a "salsa produce station" can move many items, including avocados, Ostlund said.

"It makes a beautiful display with tomatoes and avocados, making a colorful cart stopper," she said.

Creative usage ideas

The Avocado Producers and Exporting Packers Association of Michoacán is active in cross-promoting its product, said Eduardo Serena, APEAM"s marketing director.

"As the category and volume continue to grow, (APEAM) is making sure retail opportunities do as well by creating new ways to build demand, increase brand awareness and expand usage ideas, from breakfast and beyond," he said.

There are a variety of merchandising materials available for retailers to use in store this fall and winter when consumers are likely to be planning holiday meals or getting together to watch football games, Serena said.

Indeed, he said, APEAM recently introduced a new compact secondary display "that is perfect for encouraging impulse sales in the bread aisle, deli aisle or near the registers," Serena said.

The new, hexagonal display can hold as many as two cases of bulk avocados and is available in addition to the traditional display, he said.

"Retailers are encouraged to use both for maximum impact and sales," he said.

Vernon, Calif.-based Melissa"s World Variety Produce often cross-promotes its organic avocados with tomatoes, spokesman Robert Schueller said.

"We"re known for a lot of heirlooms and teardrops (tomatoes), so that"s the obvious place for usage, especially in the summertime, with salsas and guacamoles," he said.

Guacamole is gaining in popularity as a condiment, as well, and that presents cross-merchandising opportunities, Schueller said.

Proximity to complementary items in a store"s produce department often leads to incidental cross-merchandising, said Stan Steppa, president of Magruder Inc., a Rockville, Md.-based retail chain that has stores around the Washington, D.C., metro area.

"We keep avocados next door to tomatoes, because tomatoes are red and the Hass are dark, and anybody who does produce puts items light and dark, light and dark," he said.

Cross-promotional activity is bound to increase, as the popularity of avocados grows, said Maggie Bezart, marketing director, Chilean Avocado Importers Association, which is based in Washington, D.C.

"This year, we have a lot more partnerships that we"re going to be working on in-store," she said.