South Africa’s avocado industry has attained a great position in marketing for a non-essential product: getting consumers to feel they need it rather than just want it. The resulting sales growth has boosted the industry despite recent economic and supply constraints.
Glynnis Branthwaite, owner of Protactic Strategic Communications, answered the question of when did the first concerted marketing effort to increase consumption of avocados start in South Africa?
She said:: Protactic launched the first communications strategy for SAAGA [the South African Avocado Growers’ Association] more than 20 years ago. The goal was to educate consumers and key opinion leaders about the health benefits and versatility of avocados, and ultimately to assist with increasing consumption on the local market.
Initially, there were a lot of misconceptions about avocados and these needed to be addressed through distribution of scientific research results. One of the first aims was to educate cardiologists about the beneficial fats found in this fruit. Health messages have remained an important component of marketing avocados, and research done over many years shows that avocados are widely perceived as a healthy fruit, which ultimately increases consumption.
Derek Donkin said about South Africa’s annual avocado output at that stage: “Total annual production around 2000 was between 80 000t and 100 000t. Today, it’s approximately 135 000t, although the bumper crop of 2018 was 169 000t.”
“Per-capita consumption was about 0,8kg in 2000, and this had risen to 1kg by 2020. This may seem like a minor increase, but it should be remembered that South Africa’s population was 47 million in 2000, whereas it totalled about 60 million in 2020.”