Avocados from Mexico looking to diversify menus
U.S. avocado consumption continues to grow. More producers and more acres are flooding the market with more and more fruit every year. In order for this not to become an issue, and instead, take advantage of the situation, brands are diversifying their promotional strategies.
Avocados from Mexico, created about 10 years ago to market to U.S. consumers, works with companies such as Potbelly Corp., Walmart Inc. and Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. to get more avocados into restaurants and grocery stores.
It buys ads in the Super Bowl, operates a kitchen to test new recipes, and created a popular advertising song.
Group CEO Alvaro Luque recently met with Bloomberg News to detail growing seasons, inflation and plans to include avocado in more sandwiches, tacos, and even brownies.
Avocados from Mexico is 100% a U.S. marketing company that doesn’t sell avocados. It was created to establish a brand for Mexican avocados and accelerate avocado demand in the United States.
Avocados from Mexico is creating a brand in an unbranded segment. “You don't wake up every morning thinking you're going to go buy your favorite brand of celery. But we're trying to generate excitement around this commodity. We have already run eight Super Bowl ads, and now more than 60% of consumers prefer avocados from Mexico. The percentage was very low when we started,” Luque says.
From where is growth coming?
Currently, food service represents about 30% of avocado volume in the U.S., but the opportunity is huge.
“Being a Mexican-origin product, you would think that our penetration in tacos is huge, but the figures show that we only have 2% penetration in tacos. Therefore, 98% of tacos served in the U.S. do not have avocado. Bowls probably represent the biggest opportunity. The great thing about bowls is that they are in every kitchen. You can have an Indian dish, a Mediterranean dish, an American dish, or a Mexican dish, and they can all have avocado in them. So we are making great strides. But the other sector where we see good traction is beverages like smoothies and cocktails.”
What about desserts?
Luque says, “We haven't pushed desserts very much, but we play with the theme because it's interesting. By substituting 100% of the butter with avocado in your favorite brownie recipe, it will work perfectly. But if you like it fudgy, I'd say just 75%. You won't taste the avocado and you won't see the color, but instead you will consume only healthy fat.”
While the U.S. gets most of its avocados from Mexico, it also imports the fruit from Peru, Colombia, the Dominican Republic and other countries. Chipotle said last quarter that, for the first time, it sourced most of its avocados from Peru. Is avocado competition increasing?
“Here, Peruvian avocados are available in the market in July, August, and September. That is their time frame. We still have 60% of the market.”
All countries that produce Hass avocado have the same tree. There are parts of the world where there is only one crop. That is why California avocados are only in the market from March to August. But Michoacán, Mexico, is the only place on Earth that has four crops instead of one. Mexico will always have the fruit from January to December.
In the 12 months through July 29, U.S. retailers sold about $2.7 billion worth of avocados, according to researcher NIQ. Are you concerned that consumption may decline as high levels of inflation erode shoppers' purchasing power?
“There are a lot of foods in the U.S. that allow you to be very healthy but aren't very fun. Like kale, right? A kale salad will be great but it doesn't give satisfaction,” Luque says. “Now, eating a whole pizza will be delicious, but one won't feel very healthy. So avocado offers flavor, satisfaction and health at the same time. It's not that common to have that trifecta, which will allow avocado to do a little better during these times of inflation than other foods.”