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South Africa: Avocado value increase despite bumper year

South African avocado growers are upbeat about the future of the industry after a record crop in 2014 that saw 15 million 4kg cartons being exported and an increase in product demand on the local market.

“A total of 25 498 tons of avos were sold on the National Fresh Produce Markets this season to date (January to October 2014), representing an increase of 5 000 tons compared to last year. The value of avo sales on National Fresh Produce Markets during this time increased from R149.9 million to R180.2 million – a R30 million increase compared to 2013. Sales were good, prices held steady and despite a very slight drop in price during peak season, growers, packers and retailers were very happy with the season,” says Derek Donkin, CEO of the South African Subtropical Growers’ Association (Subtrop).

Normally increased volumes mean lower prices, but these exceptional 2014 figures demonstrate the positive impact of improved distribution; the availability of good quality fruit; increased consumer interest around healthy eating; the successful collaboration of all industry stakeholders and the efficacy of an integrated communications and promotions campaign in maintaining a buoyant local market at such times.

The multifaceted communications campaign aimed to grow local sales by 15% during the 2014 season by encouraging the increased purchase and consumption of avos across all sectors through the ‘add an avo’ message (linked to key health messages); by working closely with growers, packers, market agents and retailers to ensure promotions were effective and impactful; and by getting key target markets to talk about the benefits of ‘adding an avo’.

To ensure market relevance, promotional messages were tweaked for these different target segments. For example, retailers were educated on avo care and handling, the different cultivars, ripening and storage, and a wastage study was conducted among some retailers to identify areas of improvement; presentations targeting consumers (particularly moms) on the benefits of feeding avos from a young age were given in 16 clinics reaching more than 30 000 people; and the hospitality industry – an important market – was reached through a campaign targeting a major national restaurant chain and an avo-based competition hosted for the local chef schools.

These elements were supported by extensive ‘add an avo’ consumer promotional material including recipe leaflets that were inserted into punnets, flyers, posters, wobblers, salad bag stickers, gondola ends, fruit bin banners and branded stands. Specially targeted advertorials and press releases containing different messaging, visuals and recipes were issued to media. The entire campaign was underpinned by a strong social media campaign, hosted on the iloveavos Facebook page and on Twitter.

Following this bumper season, the industry will focus on increased production at farm level to meet growing future demand. “If we want to continue this positive trend, we need to increase output. In the US, consumption has doubled to 800k metric tonnes per annum in just 10 years (2.5kg /capita). South Africa’s consumption is currently ±0.850kg/capita. If this was to double, our current plantings wouldn’t meet demand. As SAAGA we’re focusing on improving production through various efforts, including on-going research,” says Mark Baker, chairman of SAAGA.

Derek Donkin, adds that new orchards are being planted as growers prepare for this increased growth locally and in the export market. “This means more consumers will be able to enjoy more avocados more often, and economic growth and job creation will be positively stimulated,” he explains.

In addition, SAAGA will continue to drive promotional activity through well co-ordinated campaigns; to work with the South African government to achieve new market access and sustainability, and to increase the career appeal of the industry, especially among the youth.

Visit www.facebook.com/iloveavocadoSA or follow them on Twitter @iloveavos to learn more.

For more information:
Lauren Anceriz
or Glynnis Branthwaite
Protactic Strategic Communications
Tel: +27 11 882 9272
Email: lauren@protactic.co.za
or glynnis@protactic.co.za

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