dos is currently outstripping supply, signaling what he describes as a positive environment for growth. Howev- er, at the same time he says that the strong competition presented by Peru means Mexican growers need to adapt. “Mexico has to become more competitive, and achieving that means having to accept lower prices internationally,” says Castillo. But while growers remain motivated to grow exports, he says placing U.S. pricing as its baseline level has led to Mexico missing out in other markets. “We have to be more flexible on pricing to be able to compete in Europe and Asia,” says Castillo. New markets For Frutícola Velo, which exports 85% of its annual pro- duction, the vast majority of which is destined for the U.S. market, followed by smaller volumes to Canada and Japan. However, when it comes to looking beyond the U.S. and expanding into other markets, Ricardo Vega sees chal- lenges. He says logistical problems born from the pan- demic have proved to be a challenge for Mexico as a whole when it comes to increasing shipments to not just Japan, but also China. He echoes the view that high Mexican av- ocado prices have also impeded expansion into countries like Japan, as importers look to Peru for cheaper volumes. Velo is also looking closer to home in the form of Central America, specifically to Costa Rica, Honduras and Guatemala, the latter of which was effectively closed to Mexican avocados for a number of years. Vega also sees an opportunity for Mexican avocados in Middle Eastern countries such as the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, where air-freighted fruit has been well received. He emphasizes that the company is also careful not to neglect the domestic Mexican market, with Velo main- taining a presence in Mexico City’s Central de Abasto wholesale market. “I would venture to say that Velo is among the few Mexican exporters in APEAM that serve grocery retailers here in Mexico,” he says. “We know the importance of the domestic market because Mexicans eat a lot of avocados. We also provide ready-to-eat avocados to restaurant chains in Mexico City through our operation in the wholesale market.” Coliman’s overseas avocado markets are also wide-ranging, including Japan, New Zealand, a number of European countries and even Colombia, which is begin - ning to make inroads into the U.S. market having gained access in 2017. According to Castillo, Asia is a promising market for

Mexican avocados, especially Japan and South Korea. But while China has also grown considerably during recent years as an avocado market, Castillo says there remains work to be done to encourage Chinese consumers to eat more avocados. Until this happens, he says future growth will be steady but slow. U.S. promotions In the U.S. market, something that has helped to drive growth, especially during key consumption periods, are promotions and marketing initiatives. For Mexican avoca- dos, these efforts are overseen by Avocados From Mexi - co, a Texas-based organization that has the objective of boosting consumption of the fruit north of the border. Stephanie Bazan, Avocados From Mexico’s Vice President of Shopper & Trade Marketing, describes the 2021-22 season as a challenging year, due to inflationary pressures, but says the season closed with strong retailer support of AFM’s national and local shopper and trade marketing activity. “We have support that goes 365 days a year, so we ac- tivate and promote in our retail accounts year-round with an emphasis on our big tent pole occasions such as the Big Game and Cinco de Mayo. Promotional activities are crucial during October, November and December months as Mexican avocado imports hit their peak and Avocados From Mexico becomes the biggest supplier in the market,” says Bazan. In 2022, the promotional season kicked off with Na - tional Guacamole Day on Sept. 16, followed by National Taco Day on Oct. 4. To support these occasions, Avocados From Mexico launched a grocery retail in-store cam- paign called ‘Guac & Tacos’, featuring displays, coupons, branded point of sale materials and digital media. “These promotions get the season started between October and December when Mexico dominates the avocado market,” says Bazan. To emphasize the link that avocados have to health, in October, Avocados From Mexico supported leading U.S. cancer research charity, Susan G. Komen, with branded packaging and displays. “The number one reason consum- ers in the U.S. eat avocados is because of the strong health benefits in addition to great taste,” says Bazan. Another key 2022 calendar date for the marketer is the world’s biggest soccer event, which takes place from Nov. 20 - Dec. 18, 2022. With this key event, Avocados From Mexico teamed up with a powerhouse pair who are icons in soccer’s biggest world games – Landon Donovan and

Vision Magazine 73

December 2022

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