field hearings

Marketing: What Citrus Can Learn From Avocados

Tacy CalliesMarketing


Sales of avocados in the U.S. market have become one of the biggest produce success stories in the past two decades.

During the recent Global Citrus Congress Live webinar event, John McGuigan, director of industry affairs for the Hass Avocado Board, presented a case study on how a mandatory sales levy has funded marketing programs and nutritional research that helped make avocados the No. 1 consumed fruit in the United States. McGuigan, who has been in the fresh fruit business for over 35 years, including 25 of them in citrus, believes the citrus industry can utilize a similar model to promote its offerings.

From 1980 to 2000, the U.S. market consumed less than 500 million pounds of avocados per year. In 2000, the Hass Avocado Promotion and Information Act (HAPRIA) was passed, which authorized mandatory collection of 2.5¢ per pound of Hass avocados sold in the United States. The Act was put in place to mitigate the downward pressure of avocado prices resulting from increase of supply coming from other countries due to the North American Free Trade Agreement.

From 2003 to 2018, Hass avocados experienced a 250 percent increase in volume sold in the United States. In 2020, 2.75 billion pounds of Hass avocados are predicted to be sold in the United States. Typically, with such steep growth, prices would collapse. However, the beauty of HAPRIA is that as volume increases, total funding increases as well, giving the industry more budget to market more supply.

McGuigan attributes the marketing success to funding and promoting the science of the health benefits of the avocado. He believes that this same model could serve as a great catalyst for the citrus industry, giving it a consistent level of investment, allowing it to fund strategically driven health research and a marketing plan to convey the relevant findings to consumers.

Since the health halo of citrus is already established and popular among consumers, the industry is well positioned to enact the same type of program and research, McGuigan believes.

“If citrus or some other commodity wants to make investments driving toward nutritional research or messaging about that, they’re going to have to find a revenue model that’s going to be able to fund it, where all participants pay a little bit of the price,” McGuigan says.

Watch the Global Citrus Congress presentations here.

This article was written by Ashley Robinson, AgNet Media communications intern in Gainesville, Florida.