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Ripe Timing for Avocado Promotions, Quality Improvement Programs

Meijer launches new ripening system as big brands tout avocados ahead of Big Game
Lynn Petrak, Progressive Grocer
Avo photo
Meijer reports strong avocado sales and has added a controlled environment to one of its distribution centers to ensure consistent ripening.

While the Los Angeles Rams and Cincinnati Bengals battle it out on the field at this weekend’s Super Bowl, one of the big winners at grocery is shaping up to be the avocado. Technically a fruit, avocados are a part of many Big Game watch-party menus and retail displays.

Michigan-based Meijer reported that sales of its large avocados doubled in December 2021 compared to the previous December and are in high demand ahead of the football championship. The retailer cited research from showing that consumers quaff about 48,000 metric tons of guacamole on the day of professional football’s biggest match-up.

As demand surges during holidays and special events, Meijer is also working to help customers shop for the best avocados, partnering with avocado suppliers to create a pilot program aimed at perfecting the ripening process.

As part of that program, Meijer’s produce team recently designed large controlled ripening rooms at its distribution center in Lansing, Mich., where avocados, including small avocados averaging 5 to 6 ounces and larger 10- or 11-ounce avocados, can ripen consistently. The company’s quality control staffers monitor progress in the controlled environments from the time the avocados arrive at the DC to the time they are loaded onto trucks for delivery to stores participating in the pilot.

"When a customer buys avocados, they want to enjoy them within few days, so our team is excited our new approach is beginning to make a difference," explained Kris Pedres, produce buyer for Meijer who came up with the idea. "Many customers understand the benefits, but there are others who are hesitant or would only order guacamole in a restaurant. We wanted to remove the guesswork and frustration. We wanted to make sure any customer choosing an avocado can always find one consistent in quality, size and taste."

In other Big Game avocado news, the Avocados from Mexico went big for this year’s event after sitting out 2021. The brand partnered with former New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees to create in-store store displays and is producing a 30-second commercial during the high-profile telecast. The ad will feature comedian and late night entertainer Andy Richter playing Julius Ceasar in a Roman Colosseum “tailgate” party.

Grand Rapids, Mich.-based Meijer operates 257 supercenters and grocery stores throughout Michigan, Ohio, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky and Wisconsin. The company is No. 18 on The PG 100, Progressive Grocer’s 2021 list of the top food retailers in North America

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