Processed avocados bring advantages to consumers

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Processed avocados bring advantages to consumers

Fresh avocados are a super food. Millennials and Gen Z’s have really continued the popularity growth with avocado toast, notes Jay Alley, co-owner, and vice president of sales of Fresh Innovations LLC, which operates ¡Yo Quiero! Brands, Rhome, TX. 

While fresh avocados are terrific and healthy, Alley is high among industry leadership that has extended the product line with high quality processed products.

Before launching ¡Yo Quiero!, for 16 years Alley with another firm created the current day guacamole and avocado categories at retail and foodservice. 

This utilized HPP (High Press Processing) to produce avocado products to extend shelf life as well as create products that were fresh tasting, free of additives and preservatives, and free of Listeria, E Coli, Salmonella, yeast, and mold. 

The founder of the first firm was Don Bowden, who died Sept. 14 at the age of 90. “He was the first to use HPP in the United States on a commercial level and avocado pioneer,” Alley says. 

“At ¡Yo Quiero! we’ve taken what we’ve learned previously and started a business with Don Bowden that continues his avocado legacy, and due to the expertise of the ownership team, we are working to innovate items and take avocado and guacamole to an even higher level.”

¡Yo Quiero! Brands, operates a 45,000 square foot distribution facility in Rhome, Texas. It also has a modern new facility in Mexico.

¡Yo Quiero! utilizes HPP on all avocado and guacamole products. “We hand scoop all our items, mix in small batches, seal, and then run through HPP.” This ensures that all his avocado and guacamole items meet the highest food safety standards. Furthermore, he adds, the fresh, all natural product flavors are delicious and the best on the market.

Are there further improvements coming for processing avocados?

“The current HPP process, is considered ‘best in practice’ in the market.” It cold pasteurizes the avocado products without harsh chemicals and heat.

The technology’s main challenge is the size cost of the machines. “However, for consumer food safety and freshness, the machines are worth every penny.”

On the marketing side, Alley intends to show consumers that avocado is for more than just guacamole and chips. “We started that when this team created Minis and Snack Packs” which target a different consumer and usage. 

¡Yo Quiero! recently launched an avocado cream cheese dip, which reduced calories, fats, and cholesterol by roughly 30 percent.

There are several national competitors in the marketplace with processed avocados, including Wholly Guacamole, in Saginaw, TX, and Westfalia Fruit Marketing USA LLC, in Oxnard, CA.

While Alley is a big fan of whole delicious avocados, he says “Our processed avocado and guacamole products are always ripe and always ready to eat.” Nor is there any waste.

Furthermore, he notes, whole avocados can be expensive and are difficult to buy at just the right ripeness. They may also suffer from wasteful internal bruising.

Avocado consumption and sourcing

In 2000 annual avocado consumption per person was two pounds. By 2020 annual consumption was over nine pounds, Alley reports.

The Hass Avocado Board predicts that by 2025, that number will be over 11 pounds a year. “We continue to see year over year unit sales increases in avocado and we don’t believe it will be ending any time soon,” Alley adds.

¡Yo Quiero! sources avocados only in Mexico. He notes Mexico is the world’s largest avocado producer and has continued acreage increases, meetings supply needs. “Based on that we do not need to currently use avocados from Peru or Chile.”

¡Yo Quiero! is not actively involved in growing avocados, but the firm is vertically integrated through grower partnerships.

Avocados from Mexico

Although ¡Yo Quiero! certainly boosts Mexican avocado sales, Stephanie Bazan, vice president of shopper and trade marketing at Avocados From Mexico (AFM), said her group solely pushes fresh avocados, both in foodservice and retail.

She tells Fresh Fruit Portal that a recent AFM study indicated that the ability for shoppers to pick their avocados for today and later are critical factors to choosing avocados because having the ability to eat today and later is a key influencer. 

“We believe an approach where retailers offer dual assortment (ripe and unripe) will help drive units per trip. We have innovated around new merchandising solutions to help retailers who are interested in offering their shoppers fresh avocados that are ready for immediate and later consumption.”

On the foodservice side, AFM emphasizes culinary innovation. These efforts leverage the versatility of avocados, to boost avocados on menus across the country. 

 At the retail level, bulk avocado sales are still king, but Bazan indicates COVID-19 accelerated bag sales growth. This shift in consumer preference continues to persist. Bag-only households have increased from 13.8 percent in 2019 to 20.6 percent in 2022. Bazan’s source was a NielsenIQHomescanPanel, running from Jan. 31, 2021, until Jan 29, 2022.

Displaying bags with unique, themed packaging is an important merchandising solution for retailers, providing shopper convenience. 

Bazan says value and convenience are driving this trend. AFM offers various bag focused support programs and merchandising resources that can help drive avocado sales for retailers. Bags have brought a big opportunity to increase units per trip and household penetration, while bringing convenience and value for consumers, and we have leveraged this opportunity to include branded messages around our strategic pillars: education, health and welfare, core uses.

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