The limited space available for branding on produce stickers is a challenge for branding bulk fresh fruits and vegetables, said Terry Splane, vice president of marketing for the Irvine-based California Avocado Commission.

But through creative merchandising, advertising and promotions, he said, brands can establish awareness and build preference over time.

“The California Avocado Commission has proactively and consistently built the California Avocados brand since the organization’s inception nearly 45 years ago, and today it continues to be the preferred brand of avocados in the West.”

In the avocado category, branding has become more prevalent in three areas, Splane said.

Calling out brands and origin more prominently through advertising and merchandising has been possible due to the marketing funds generated by boards and commissions.

Bagged avocados provide enough “real estate” to prominently communicate a brand as well as other messaging. Bagged avocados have grown significantly in the past several years.

Certain retailers see the value of highlighting California, the locally grown fruit, on their private label bagged avocados. This packaging draws attention to shoppers where they are merchandised, encouraging sales. And at the end of the day, branding is all about encouraging sales throughout the entire supply chain.

California avocados are locally and responsibly grown by California farmers who nurture the avocados and the land every step of the way, Splane said. Getting that message across is crucial to strengthening the brand’s identify. 

“California avocado season is associated with quality and reliability. We reinforce that message and make sure customers know that California avocado growers are committed to building and maintaining a sustainable industry by using environmentally friendly farming practices, ensuring worker well-being, contributing to healthy communities and maintaining economic viability.”

Consumers, meanwhile, know that California avocados are grown close to home, so they’re fresh to market, Splane added. Being fresh to market means fewer carbon emissions from transportation and less chance for damage in transit, so the commission reinforces that message.

“California” also evokes many positive images for consumers, and CAC focuses on those that are relative to growing the fruit, such as elements of the California terroir and lifestyle.

The Commission is continuing its successful advertising campaign, “The best avocados have California in them.” 

In addition to its advertising and PR programs, CAC is leaning heavily into customized marketing programs with retailers, which call attention to the seasonal availability of California avocados.

Those efforts include digital and social programs, in-store merchandising activity and other activations built specifically for each customer to fit their needs, Splane said. Such programs have consistently lifted category sales during the California avocado season.

CAC also encourages and support retailers with their holiday/event merchandising during the California avocado season. That includes Cinco de Mayo, general spring or summer merchandising, Memorial Day, Fourth of July and Labor Day.