Green Marketing: Guacamole's Super Bowl Push

Fans who are fretting that California's big freeze might cut into guacamole availability on Super Bowl Sunday can go back to worrying about Peyton Manning's thumb: Thanks to the avocado marketing machine, Americans are projected to eat a record 54.3 million pounds of avocados in support of the Big Game, with 53.5 million pounds from Hass avocados.

(In fact, the helpful people at the Hass Avocado Board calculate that's about 107 million avocados--enough to cover Miami's Dolphin Stadium, end zone to end zone, in a 20.5-foot depth of avocados.)

But avocados will start getting pricier.

California avocado growers are still assessing the damage from the freeze that destroyed so much of California's citrus crop earlier this season, which likely affected 20% to 30% of the state avocado crop as well, said Jan DeLyser, vice president/marketing for the California Avocado Commission, based in Irvine.

The commission, which spends about $16 million per year marketing the California-grown fruit, and $5 million in advertising, is running branded entertainment vignettes on the food channels, and although it is still planning to break new radio and outdoor ads in April, it will likely cut its budget somewhat once crop damage has been calculated, DeLyser said.



Meanwhile, chances are good that your Game Day guac will be better suited to the World Cup than the NFL, anyway. California avocados are typically in peak season February through September; Chilean fruit peaks September through February, and Mexican avocados ship October through May, DeLyser said.

In fact, honoring the avocado's Latin roots, Americans actually buy more avocados for Cinco de Mayo than they do for the Super Bowl.

But most avocado marketing happens at the supermarket level.

Food Lion's Bloom division, which has 44 lifestyle markets in the Southeast, will offer a special button on its electronic kiosks this year, enabling shoppers to quickly call up various guacamole recipes.

"It's not unusual for our Bloom stores to sell three times the avocados during Super Bowl week as they do during the rest of the year," said a spokeswoman.

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