- Trader Joe’s is now selling bags of “Teeny Tiny Avocados” and marketing them as personalized, “just the right size” choices, according to the New York Daily News. Each avocado is about the size of a lime.
- Undersized avocados are not a new phenomenon, and are actually a product of adverse weather conditions during the growing season.
- Trader Joe’s sells bags of six Teeny Tiny Avocados for $2.69 on the West Coast and in Texas, and $2.99 everywhere else.
Undersized avocados are not a new development in the produce industry, and in the past they’ve been considered detriment to growers and retailers, typically selling below the average market price. According to an NPR story from 2013, when the U.S. last saw a large crop of small avocados, growers in California were fetching thirty cents less per pound.
But leave it to one of the country’s most creative retailers to turn a potential dud into a gold mine.
Since word got out last week that Trader Joe’s was selling its Teeny Tiny Avocados, media outlets everywhere have lit up with the news. Many have fawned over the cuteness factor, while others praise their utility. Apparently one avocado is just the right size to top a sandwich, make avocado toast, or mix into a salad. Writers also have pointed out the waste-saving virtues of using the entire avocado versus only using a portion of it, then leaving the rest in the fridge where it can quickly go bad.
The avocados are the product of a perfect storm of growing conditions, including low rainfall, late pollination, cool temperatures and slower-than-average photosynthesizing. A farm adviser and avocado specialist in California told NPR four years ago that it had been nearly 30 years since he’d seen last seen such small avocados hit the market.
On the retail side, a perfect storm of factors seems to be fueling demand, including concerns over food waste, consumer willingness to try unique products and the growing profile of avocados in the U.S. According to Nielsen, the awareness of avocados’ “good fats” along with a surge in advertising, particularly around Mexico-grown avocados, has caused sales to explode during the past several years. Currently, half of all U.S. households say they purchased at least one avocado last year.
For retailers, who are already promoting more heirloom and “ugly” produce, this indicates a willingness on the part of consumers to buy less-than-perfect fruits and vegetables. Certainly, the prospect of profiting off what otherwise might be underpriced or discarded is enticing — all grocers need is the right product and the marketing pitch to attract shoppers.