- Avocado demand among shoppers at Meijer surged in December, with large sizes of the tropical fruit used for guacamole selling at a rate twice the level recorded a year earlier, the Midwestern retailer said in a press release on Thursday.
- Meijer continued to see strong customer interest in avocados as 2022 began, with shoppers adding more than 1 million of the fruits per week to their carts ahead of the Super Bowl, the company said.
- Meijer encouraged avocado sales through a pilot program designed to control the ripening process and offer avocados in two consistent sizes.
Avocado sales tend to hit a crescendo around the time the Super Bowl takes place owing to the central role they play in making guacamole. But shoppers have long struggled to determine their ripeness, sparking interest by Meijer's produce team in making the fruit easier for customers to buy at peak freshness.
As part of the retailer's efforts to help shoppers, Meijer came up with a process to regulate conditions in rooms at its distribution center in Lansing, Michigan, to ensure avocados ripen consistently, according to the press release. The goal of the pilot is to deliver avocados to stores at the earliest point in the ripening process so customers can buy them just when they're ready for use, Meijer said.
Meijer employees keep track of the avocados' development throughout the time they're in the distribution facility and can currently oversee the process for 500,000 avocados at a time, according to the retailer.
The retailer is also striving to provide avocados in two consistent sizes that shoppers can select based on their needs instead of a random assortment. Meijer offers avocados that are about 5 or 6 ounces, a good size for single portions, and in a 10- or 11-ounce variety suitable for preparing a large quantity of guacamole, the company said.
"Many customers understand the benefits [of avocados], but there are others who are hesitant or would only order guacamole in a restaurant," Meijer Produce Buyer Kris Pedres said in a statement. "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."
Demand for avocados by consumers in the United States has increased markedly over the past 20 years, with per-capita consumption of the fruit tripling to 8 pounds in 2018 compared with 2001, according to data published in 2020 by the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA). California accounts for the vast majority of U.S. avocado production, with 93% of the country's output in 2018, the USDA said.
The United States also imports avocados to help meet consumer demand, although the country recently halted bringing in avocados from Mexico, the nation's top non-domestic supplier, because a U.S. plant safety official in that country received a safety threat, according to the Associated Press.