Packed with nutrients and dubbed a source of “good fat,” the humble avocado is enjoying phenomenal global success and is well-placed to capitalise on consumers’ increased focus on health. The avocado industry has unlocked eye-popping growth in a mature category—without breakthrough innovation. Instead, avocados have grown their share of our wallets (and stomachs) simply through significant and sustained investment in marketing and promotion.
In the U.S., sales for avocados in grocery stores skyrocketed between 2011 and 2015 to a projected $1.8 billion ($2.21 AUD). A considerable increase in imports from Central and South America has helped offset local production challenges to meet rising demand while decreasing the average price of avocados and providing year-round availability. While only one-in-two American households purchased an avocado in the 12 months through June 2016, there has been a consistent increase in the number of American households purchasing avocados over the past few years. Equally as important, shoppers are purchasing avocados more often.
But the U.S. isn’t the only market with exploding avocado sales. In Australia, demand is outpacing supply. Australian retail sales increased 15.8% in the 12 months ending August 2016, driven by a significant spike in the number of consumers buying avocados. Around seven-in-10 (71.4%) households bought avocados in 2016—up from 65.4% two years ago. And just like in the U.S., Aussies are putting avocados in their shopping basket more frequently than they did just a few years ago.
Compared to other fresh produce categories, the avocado industry has invested heavily in communicating the product’s health benefits more widely to customers. In the U.S., Avocados by Mexico, a key supplier, accounted for one-third of all media dollars spent by fresh produce manufacturers in 2014. The Australian avocado industry has been working hard to capitalise on the increased demand for avocados, with Horticulture Innovation Australia investing heavily over the last three years in media and activation to attract consumers to the category.
Social media is another outlet where avocados have the opportunity to shine. Foodies regularly share photos of their latest avocado creations and experiences on social media sites. Mashed into guacamole as a side or topping, spread on toast for breakfast or sliced for sandwiches, avocados are versatile and used across all dining occasions. Avocados have even been featured in adventurous desserts including ice cream and chocolate-avocado mousse.
With clever marketing, there is still plenty of opportunity to grow the demand for avocados. Despite all of their success to date in both the U.S. and Australia, avocados are still middle of the pack in terms of household penetration. Reaching new households with continued media investment and incentivising current consumers with new proprietary varieties or value-adding products will help avocados continue its rapid global rise.