Progressive Grocer

AUG 2015

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August 2015 | | 93 fall, Calavo will introduce a Strawberry Chocolate Avocado Mousse and a Pine- apple Chocolate Avocado Mousse. "Avocados are getting so much good public- ity, between Dr. Oz and research on how good they are for you," notes Joyal. An East Coast native, he has seen avocados go from a "mystical fruit" only available in certain months of the year to a prominent fxture in produce departments up and down the eastern seaboard. "Tere's a whole generation now that has been brought up with avocados in the East," he observes. "What's driving all of this new avo- cado business are the 17- to 33-year-olds who are interested in healthy, satisfying snacking, but who don't want to eat foods that weigh them down. We're focusing on this group." Tracey Altman, VP of innovation and insights for Orange, Calif.-based MegaMex Foods, the maker of Wholly Guacamole, is also targeting the Millennial shopper. "Millennials grew up with avocados," says Altman, who adds that this demographic is drawn to Wholly Guacamole Minis, at 100 calo- ries or fewer per serving. MegaMex, a joint venture between Austin, Minn.-based Hormel Foods and Mexican company Herdez del Fuerte S.A. de CV, ofers an entire line of Wholly Guacamole Minis, including Classic, Chunky Avocado, Homestyle, Organic, Avocado Ranch and Spicy. Wholly Guacamole also features an Avocado Verde variety in 10-ounce tubs and as part of the Minis line; the Avocado Verde Mini has just 45 calories per serving. "Millennials don't shop the way their parents shopped, and they want variety," notes Altman. "Te retailers who are frst to fgure out how to merchandise to this generation will win." When it comes to fresh-prepared guacamole, according to Altman, "research shows that there are makers, takers and fakers. Makers make their own guacamole and it's a source of pride for them. Tey will never buy our product. Takers make guacamole on the weekends, but during the week, they want the convenience of an all-natural guacamole that is already prepared, while fakers always opt for the ease of prepared guacamole." Innovative product introductions ofer the variety today's consumers seek, but the versatility of avocados and avocado-based products is further driving sales. "Five years ago, guacamole was a party dip," afrms Altman. "Now it's a spread, it's a salad dressing, it's a condiment for burg- ers and hot dogs — consumers not only understand the health benefts of an avocado, they [also] under- stand its many uses." With Herdez, Altman has witnessed the explosive growth in avocados and fresh avocado products on the foodservice side of the busi- ness as well. "Te business used to be Mexican restaurants," she says, "and now there's guacamole on Subway sandwiches, steakhouses are serving guacamoIe — it's showing up in all kinds of cuisine." Fresh From Florida While Hass avocados represent the lion's share of avocados consumed in the United States, grow- ers and shippers of Florida avocados are seeing an increase in demand for their fruit. Unlike the skin of Hass avocados, most Florida avocados don't darken when ripe, but rather remain a smooth Kelly green. Florida avocados are also higher in water content than the Hass variety, and thus are lower in fat and calories. "We grow and distribute a lot of the Florida green-skin avocados, and we've seen an increase in demand for them in the last four or fve years," reports Jessie Capote, principal/EVP of J&C Tropicals, in Miami, who attributes the rise in popularity to several factors. "No. 1, green- skin avocados are very popular with Caribbean, Central and South American consumers around the country. Tere is consistent demand not only from the East Coast, but [also] California, Texas and Chicago," Capote says. "Secondly, because of the high water content in Florida avocados, they've gained a lot of traction with more health-conscious consumers." Brooks Tropicals, in Homestead, Fla., markets its Florida-grown avocados with the fat- and calorie-conscious consumer in mind. Its SlimCados have up to half the fat and one-third fewer calories than other avocados, according to Director of Marketing Mary Ostlund. "It's a great avocado for people watching their weight," notes Ostlund, adding, "It's both a niche avocado and a staple." PG We realize that guacamole and avocado- based products are huge, and a growing category." —Rick Joyal, Calavo Growers Inc.

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