By CHRIS WHITE, Managing Director of Fruinet Media International.
Avocado sales continue to grow. The avocado sector is buoyant. The opportunities to sell even more are hug. There is no end in sight for this golden age.
But history teaches us that the time will come when things don’t go so well. No one knows when it will come. But some day sales will ﬂatten. Shoppers will get bored of avocados. They will want something new. Avocados won’t be the trendy product anymore. Millennial will want something else to photograph for breakfast and to post on their Instagram feeds.
The avocado sector needs to prepare now for this time when things don’t go so well. Fortunately, the avocado business doesn’t have to look very far for new ideas. And it has already made big changes that help to prepare the way.
Remember when buying an avocado was a lottery? The chance of getting a bad one was high. Now that’s very rare. All that focus on quality in the supply chain has paid oﬀ. Shoppers are now much more likely to get same high quality every time. Reliable quality has helped to build repeat sales. At the same time supermarkets have segmented their avocado oﬀer: into ripe-and-ready to eat, into smaller single-serve pieces of fruit, into multi-packs, into organic and fair-trade, and so on.
The global business for avocados is built on a single variety. Avocados are Hass, and Hass are avocados. The variety has been good for growers, great for retailers, and excellent for shoppers. But does this focus on Hass also leave the avocado industry dangerously exposed. Is the avocado sector painting itself into a corner?
First, there’s the danger of commoditization: a single variety that quickly can become a loss leader for the supermarkets, which like to promote heavily on key fresh produce lines to get more shoppers through their doors, and which like to compete head-to-head on price.
Second, the big challenge of sustainabilitylity: what happens if Hass is compromised as a variety, by a disease outbreak, or a general weakening in its composition? Or if the supply of Hass is jeopardized by some other unknown factor?
If you don’t think it’ll happen, then look at the banana business. Year-round availability, high sales, low prices, and now a global disease that threatens the existence of Cavendish, the number one variety that is grown commercially all over the world.
Isn’t it high time that the avocado sector segmented its oﬀer? It needs to keep retailers and shoppers interested, it needs to talk about provenance and heritage and all those other things that add value. It needs to resurrect some older varieties that peel more easily or size diﬀrently. It needs to be develop new varieties and new cultivars and new ways of eating and enjoying today’s favorite. It really needs to start preparing today for tomorrow.