Five Ways to Say ‘Olé’ to Cinco de Mayo Produce Sales

Retailers should merchandise avocados with complementary items like tomatoes, onions, cilantro or chips.

Originally printed in the April 2024 issue of Produce Business.

Cinco de Mayo, translated to May 5, celebrates Mexico’s victory at the Battle of Puebla in 1862. Today, Americans have latched onto this holiday to celebrate all things Mexican, including the cuisine.

To see just how big of a food holiday Cinco de Mayo can be for the produce department, we tallied the variety of fresh produce called for and how many times a fruit, vegetable, or fresh herb appeared in the 29 Recipes That Are Perfect for Any Cinco de Mayo Party, a 2023 article published on the Food Network website. The results are register-ringing. There were 28 total produce items, some with multiple SKUs.

The top No. 1 ingredient in a double-digit number of recipes was cilantro, followed by onions, limes and lime juice, and garlic. Fresh corn, avocados, potatoes, shredded cabbage, bell peppers and scallions were among other veggies. Watermelon, mangos, strawberries and blueberries were the top fruits, and oregano and mint leaves were the major fresh herbs.

“Cinco de Mayo is more of an American holiday, and we see increased sales of avocados, cilantro and chiles,” says Randy Bohaty, produce director at B&R Stores, a 32-store chain based in Lincoln, NE. “In our stores with more Hispanic shoppers, big items will be Maradol papaya and tomatillos.”

“Cinco de Mayo is more of an American holiday, and we see increased sales of avocados, cilantro and chiles.”

— Randy Bohaty, B&R Stores, Lincoln, NE

Here are five ways to say olé to produce sales for Cinco de Mayo:


Mexican is the most popular ethnic food type in the U.S., representing 11% of all restaurants, according to a January 2024-released report by the Pew Research Center, using SafeGraph data. What’s more, 85% of U.S. counties have at least one Mexican restaurant. Said another way, most Americans use Mexican food and ingredients.

From yet another view, 42% of U.S. consumers celebrate Cinco de Mayo, with 48% celebrating at home, based on 2022 data from Quantilope, as shared by Irving, TX-headquartered Avocados from Mexico (AFM).

“Cinco de Mayo is a holiday that is best targeted to both Hispanic and non-Hispanic shoppers,” says Crystal Chavez, marketing coordinator at Gold Coast Packing Inc., in Santa Maria, CA, which sells washed and ready-to-use cilantro in 3-ounce and 1-pound bags. “I don’t think consumers care what the meaning behind the holiday is. To many, it is just another day to celebrate, drink and eat some great Mexican food.”

That said, be sure to offer chayote, jicama, tomatillo, aloe, yuca root, tatuma (white Mexican squash), cilantro, hot chile peppers, cactus pears, plantains and tamale ingredients, recommends Robert Schueller, director of public relations for Melissa’s/World Variety Produce, in Vernon, CA.

“Non-Hispanic shoppers tend to look for avocados, salsa ingredients, milder chile peppers, limes, cilantro, jalapeno, tamale kits and mangos.”

Cinco de Mayo “has grown into a double-digit category for the produce ring over the last two decades that our company has promoted it,” Schueller adds. “This year, we anticipate about a 10% growth from last year on Hispanic vegetables, peppers, and fruits that revolve around this holiday.”


Cinco de Mayo is the second-highest consumption date of the year for avocados, surpassed only by the Super Bowl, according to

The celebration was the biggest Q2 2023 avocado-selling holiday, according to the September 23, 2023-released holiday retail recap report from the Hass Avocado Board (HAB), in Mission Viejo, CA.
This is a time when both Mexican and California fruit are available in the market.

All regions of the U.S. contributed double-digit avocado unit growth during last year’s Cinco de Mayo week, with growth rates ranging from +15% in the Great Lakes to +40% in the Southeast. In addition, bagged and organic avocados drove a 2-million-unit growth in retail sales, and large and extra-large avocado volume more than doubled, compared to 2022.

Americans consume up to 81 million pounds of avocados on Cinco de Mayo, according to the California Avocado Commission (CAC), in Irvine, CA. That’s a lot of guacamole.

“Cinco de Mayo is one of the top-selling avocado and guacamole mix events each year,” says Samantha McCaul, marketing manager for Concord Foods LLC, in Brockton, MA.


Since guacamole is the preferred preparation of avocado for Cinco, AFM recommends retailers merchandise avocados with complementary items like tomatoes, onions, cilantro or chips, “to help create ‘guacamole stations’ and make it easy for last-minute planners to purchase and create recipes at home,” says Stephanie Bazan, AFM’s senior vice president of commercial strategy and execution.

Indeed, shoppers spend 1.9 times more money on groceries when avocados are in the basket in the month leading up to Cinco de Mayo, according to Basket Affinity Report in 2022 by Chicago, IL-based market research company, Numerator.

“Typically, Hispanic shoppers look for white onions, but as more recipes are using sweet onions, we are seeing demand increase and our customers’ usage of sweet onions in more than just a raw preparation,” says Matthew Gideon, sales and commodity manager for Keystone Fruit Marketing, headquartered in Greencastle, PA.

In addition to guacamole ingredients, pre-made guacamole is a top-seller.

At Fresh Innovations LLC, in Rhome, TX, which markets its Yo Quiero! brand, the top-selling guacamole flavors across the board are Original, a basic guacamole with avocados, onions, and spices; and Chunky, with avocados, tomatoes, onion, cilantro and spices.

“What goes best with guacamole? Salsa, queso, elote, and bean dip — and we offer those items as well,” says Tara Murray, vice president of marketing for Fresh Innovations LLC. “Cinco de Mayo is a wonderful time to promote an Ultimate Dip Destination.”

Seasonal holidays are important in driving volume for limes, and Cinco de Mayo is one of three top demand periods, says Dave Rooke, senior vice president of sales for Wonderful Citrus, in Delano, CA.

Persian limes make up the vast majority (+95%) of the volume sold in the category and are the most promotable during the Cinco de Mayo selling period, Rooke says. “Similarly, bulk limes are the most popular, in terms of volume sales; however, packaged limes earn a 15% to 20% premium per pound more than bulk sales.”

Cinco de Mayo, or Cinco de Mango as the National Mango Board (NMB) calls it, has become increasingly important as a mango-selling occasion in recent years, says Dan Spellman, director of marketing for the Orlando, FL-based NMB.

“Mango sales have experienced a noticeable uptick during the Cinco de Mayo period. Last year, we saw an increase of 5% to 10% in various parts of the U.S. based on our retail data.”


A big display of avocados is flanked in-store by tomatoes at Morton Williams Supermarkets, a 17-store chain headquartered in Bronx, NY. “Nearby, in a refrigerated unit, we’ll also offer pre-made guacamole and salsa,” says Marc Goldman, produce director.

Retailers have done an excellent job creating dip and chip displays around their guacamole, salsa and dip sections during Cinco de Mayo, according to Fresh Innovations’ co-owner and vice president of sales, Jay Alley. “It’s easy to stack chips, put up fun signage, and provide deals for purchase.”

“We’ve also seen retailers use smaller coolers around the store, to not only encourage guacamole and dip sales, but also sales of tortillas, fajita and taco meal deals; especially when placed at the front of the store.”

AFM has recipes and QR codes, and attention-getting themed merchandise displays for this holiday. The NMB offers recipe cards featuring mango-centric Cinco de Mayo dishes.


Promoting cilantro sales for Cinco de Mayo should start at least three to four weeks before the holiday, says Gold Coast Packing’s Chavez. “This ensures retailers have enough time to bring in enough product for promotions and set up displays. It also gives awareness to customers, leading to earlier sales, and not just for their Cinco de Mayo festivities.”

Typically, two weeks is ideal for promoting limes to maximize sales ahead of Cinco de Mayo, says Wonderful Citrus’ Rooke, which allows promotions to cycle from week to week.

Factor in the day of the week the fifth of May falls on, as well as the timing of other holidays and retail programs, to maximize sales, says Terry Splane, the CAC’s vice president of marketing.

“Since this year it falls on a Sunday, I’d recommend putting up themed displays starting about a week and a half to two weeks before.”

In 2023, the CAC’s retail support for Cinco de Mayo included providing display bins and sponsoring creative displays and sales contests.

This year, AFM is focusing on its Cinco De Licious Campaign, which partners with Mexican hot sauce, Cholula. The promotion also offers a Cinco De Licious bag with a $1 savings offer. The bag features a guacamole recipe and makes the purchase of multiple avocados convenient, says Bazan. “In partnership with Cholula, we’re getting this fiesta started with a host of dynamic in-store displays and full 360 support, including social and digital.”