Positioned to take the crown as king of dips and condiments in produce.
Guacamole has become ubiquitous in grocery stores and homes across the United States. Delicious, versatile, spreadable, and dippable — “guac” has become a staple food item for grilling and get-togethers, and it comes by its health halo effortlessly.
The Hass Avocado Board reported in a Washington Post article that Hass avocados comprise more than 95 percent of all avocados consumed in the United States, which soared to a record of nearly 1.9 billion pounds (or some 4.25 billion avocados) in 2014 — more than double the amount consumed in 2005, and nearly four times as many sold in 2000.
Avocados, garlic, salt, and lemon juice — these few ingredients comprise the basic guac recipe. What gets dipped into it is up to the consumer. But guacamole is not strictly a dip. Clever cooks and foodies devised a variety of uses for it. They spread it on bread and use it to top salads or pasta and find other new ways to incorporate it into their diets.
While it’s easy to make at home, prepared guacamole in the produce section is a segment that tremendously grows. There are a number of ways in which retailers can promote prepared guac. Successful cross-merchandising and effective promotional tools will alert shoppers to its presence in produce departments. Recipe ideas and POS tools can educate them on new ways to enjoy it.
Growing Consumption Trends
“Avocado consumption continues to grow due to its broad appeal for nutrition and diversity among many types of cuisine,“ says Kristyn Lawson, vice president of sales for Good Foods Group, a brand of preservative-free vegetable dips, guacamole and juice products, based in Pleasant Prairie, WI. “Consumers enjoy quality prepared guacamole for its convenience and the ‘better-for-you’ condiment choice.”
The list of dishes made better with a dab of guac is expanding. According to Lawson, in addition to topping salads and being rolled into wraps, it is added to a variety of appetizers such as deviled eggs, potato skins, tacos, even egg rolls. It’s also a tasty addition to pasta and grilled fish dishes, fajitas, soup and whatever else the creative home cook feels like concocting. “Growth of avocado consumption during the past few years has been phenomenal,” notes Dionysios Christou, vice president marketing at Del Monte Fresh Produce based in Coral Gables, FL. “There is a large increase in healthy snack consumption, and prepared guacamole is ideally positioned to address today’s consumer needs.”
Samantha McCaul, marketing manager for Concord Foods in Brockton, MA, witnessed the growing popularity as well. “Today, consumers are more familiar with guacamole,” says McCaul. “They are used to seeing it on restaurant menus and on TV and websites. In addition, the avocado commissions have done an amazing job promoting the avocado and its various uses, including guacamole. It really helped spread the appeal throughout the country.”
Work by marketing associations such as Avocados from Mexico and the California Avocado Commission helped raise the profile of avocados in the U.S. According to Maggie Bezart Hall, the vice president of trade and promotion for the Dallas-based organization, Avocados from Mexico, the fruit’s year-round availability is just one of many reasons for its popularity. “This continuous supply of good quality avocados with the right oil content has allowed retailers to prepare in-store guacamole with Fresh Avocados from Mexico.” The health benefits also make them appealing. Avocados have naturally good fats, are cholesterol-free and are packed with 20 vitamins and minerals.
Avocados from Mexico is a big reason consumers are aware of these facts and, according to Bezart Hall, retailers responded in kind. “Retailers are very committed to their support of avocados and some found an additional profit center by offering delicious and nutritious fresh avocados in a convenient form that is not preprocessed but made fresh that day.”
As T.W. Bacon, senior brand manager for Fort Worth, TX-based Wholly Guacamole, bluntly states, “People love guacamole. We are seeing more consumers eating guacamole in the foodservice space and then trying it when they find it in the store. They are pleasantly surprised when they realize that there are great-tasting solutions that don’t have preservatives in the product. We also know that consumers are looking to get more avocado in their diets, and guacamole is one of the best and most fun ways to do so.”
A Cross-Merchandising Natural
Dips and spreads are just one part of the equation. They need to be paired with something complementary, and retailers can propel the suggesting. Lawson at Good Foods Group recommends secondary ice bins to build incremental sales. “Also, building chip, salsa, fresh limes and margarita displays drive shoppers to add items to their baskets around the allure of good guacamole. In addition, with the exciting new flavors and size options that we are launching, retailers are enjoying building displays with new flavors and new sizes.”
“Additional usage and convenience ideas generally spur more sales. Showing options with whole fruit in a variety of sizes, ripe and ready to eat, and bagged fruit with bulk fruit, gives consumers options. — Robb Bertels, Mission Produce
“We see great displays across the country built around guacamole — including tortilla chips, pretzel chips, etc.,” says Bacon. “Whatever it takes to deliver an easy solution for the consumer is key to success with cross-merchandising opportunities in this space.”
To increase avocado sales across the board, retailers need to “think beyond guacamole,” says Robb Bertels, vice president of marketing, Mission Produce in Oxnard, CA. “Guac is an entry point for consumers. They know it, like it and understand it. The real challenge is to suggest additional usage ideas for the typical consumer. Lighter avocado users need suggestions for adding avocados to sandwiches and salads. Using packaging to carry recipe ideas, and POS materials to show all the different ways avocados can be used is a natural progression for increasing consumption.”
As consumers experiment with guac, retailers can also help them think outside of the chip bowl. “The primary usage is still the old fashioned way — chips and guac,” says Bacon, “But we are seeing consumers ‘guac-ing’ in a number of different ways. Using guacamole as a topper for burgers and hot dogs is one example, or even using our Wholly Guacamole Avocado Verde Dip as a salad dressing. Consumers are becoming more savvy and finding new ways to guac all of the time.”
“Additional usage and convenience ideas generally spur more sales,” says Bertels. “Showing options with whole fruit in a variety of sizes, ripe and ready to eat, and bagged fruit with bulk fruit, gives consumers options. Also cross-merchandising with ingredients to make guacamole, or with prepared guacamole in the store gives consumers even more options on usage.”
Getting To Know Guacamole
There are a number of ways innovative retailers are familiarizing consumers with prepared guacamole products. For Good Foods Group, one tactic includes a variety of promotional tools. Lawson says, “This year, we are excited to launch new consumer marketing that includes digital coupons, consumer engagement events, social media contests, and building our community with outreach programs to support healthy eating, active lifestyles and enjoying the good life through Good Foods Tableside Guacamole.”
“We promote display contests to encourage the sale of specific products and gain attention from consumers.”
— Dionysios Christou, Del Monte Fresh Produce
“Sampling is a great way to get the consumer to interact with guacamole in stores,” says Bacon. “POS around holiday times is key to category success as well. We see a lot of great work in stores around the country for game day and summer gatherings, which remind consumers about the wonders of guacamole.”
McCaul also sees the positive results of POS displays. “Retailers familiarize consumers with Concord Foods products using POS displays,” she says. “In addition, we run promotions annually, which are featured on our packaging. A great number of exciting guacamole recipes can be found on our website, such as a layered ranchero dip, a summer pizza and tiny guacamole sandwiches.”
According to Christou, Del Monte Fresh Produce provides a number of POS materials to support retailers in their avocado programs. “We promote display contests to encourage the sale of specific products and gain attention from consumers. Using consumer insights, we also establish category management programs to help extend a retailer’s growth beyond industry averages.”
More Than A Super Bowl Snack
Guacamole sales spike around Super Bowl Sunday. In fact, Americans consume nearly 80 million pounds of avocados on this unofficial national holiday. Much of that is in the form of guacamole.
Cinco De Mayo is another holiday that is growing in popularity with Americans regardless of their ethnic heritage. Lawson believes any holiday meal is made better with guacamole. “Every holiday is enjoyed across the U.S. with guacamole including Fourth of July, Fathers Day, Halloween and more.”
McCaul recognizes this as well, “Super Bowl is the No. 1 event for avocado/guacamole consumption. However, there are many other great occasions as well, where we see sales spike. Some of these events include Cinco de Mayo, Fourth of July and tailgating season, which runs from September through November.”
“Avocados have a tremendous ‘get together’ quotient,” notes Bertels at Mission Produce. “Whenever there is a gathering — to watch sporting events, for a holiday, or a house party — avocados are a natural for communal eating. Beyond that, you can’t avoid seeing avocado imagery in restaurant advertising, and that also spurs additional consumer use.”
By capitalizing on the popularity and high profile of avocados, as well as focusing on the healthy aspects and versatility of guacamole as a dip, spread and topping, retailers can take easy advantage with cross-merchandising and simple POS tools to increase sales in the produce department.
Keeping It Cool
Retailers who capitalize on the popularity of avocados will see sales increase by employing some key merchandising strategies. Guacamole is best served fresh, so refrigeration is critical to preserving shelf life. Kristyn Lawson, vice president of sales for Good Foods Group based in Pleasant Prairie, WI, offers this advice to retailers: “To achieve the freshest-tasting product while enjoying a generous shelf life, the best products utilize HPP.” (High Pressure Processing provides the best taste and allows for the highest level of food safety.) “No additives or preservatives are needed by utilizing HPP.”
Avocados from Mexico works with select retailers to offer customized refrigerated units for placement in the produce department and other areas around the store to take advantage of tie-in opportunities. Maggie Bezart Hall, the vice president of trade and promotion for the Dallas-based organization, Avocados from Mexico, recommends signage to promote the freshness of the product and tie-in items such as veggies, chips and drinks. “Advertising on a cyclical basis helps to promote the availability of product to help consumers plan for their lunch snacks and weekend entertainment.”