SlimCados have another big-volume year

Excerpt from an article in the 8/1/13 The Produce News by Rand Green

Brooks Tropicals LLC in Homestead, FL, has been growing “SlimCado” brand green-skin avocados for over 80 years in southern Florida. “Avocados are usually low volume one year, high volume the next. But these last couple of years have been more on the high side,” said Marketing Director Mary Ostlund in a written statement to The Produce News.

So far, the 2013 season is “looking good,” she said.

The 2012 season was the 20 year anniversary of Hurricane Andrew, and it was also “the year our harvests hit pre-Andrew volumes,” Ostlund said in the release. With two good-sized crops in two successive years, it appears that “the groves may have come back with a bang.”

Brooks continues to promote SlimCados with various support programs. “Our second annual Skinny Guacamole internet contest is now running,” Ostlund said. “It teams up SlimCado avocados and Concord Foods’ Guacamole mix for some summer fun. Visits to our websites and Facebook pages more than quadruple normal summer time traffic.”

North Americans are “obsessed with finding new flavors and tastes,” according to Ostlund. “Chefs are looking for ways to feed this obsession. With the seasonal nature of SlimCados, we’re usually not a permanent feature on the menu but have found space on the specials.”

Because SlimCados are so big and have less fat and calories than the Hass avocados, “consumers may think this avocado is GMO,” Ostlund said. “But it’s not. And luckily for us, consumers are web savvy. Our website and Facebook pages provide all the non-GMO information they need.”

Ostlund said in the statement that she continues to get emails and phone calls from consumers. They are all answered, and the callers and email writers are “given tokens of appreciation” for taking time “to contact us.”

According to Ostlund, “the savvy avocado aficionado knows all fat, even the good kind, should be eaten in moderation. As my doctor says, ‘good fat remains good fat until it stays around the waist.’ I’m still questioned about it, [and] I share information about the scientific findings about good fat. I truly appreciate the consumer’s interest and willingness to explore nutritional information. Interest shown by consumers’ questions can only lead to more produce sales.”

SlimCados “don’t compete with Hass avocadoes,” Ostlund said in the statement. “That’s not a phrase of bravado; it’s an acceptance that SlimCados supply a niche market. SlimCado aficionados are either liking the lighter taste with lighter foods such as salads, or they’re looking to enjoy more avocado without the additional calories or fat.” There are consumers who “grew up with SlimCados,” she said. “When in season, they’re always our top pick.”

Brooks does promotional pieces throughout the year, Ostlund said in the statement. “The consumer favorite is hands-down the SlimCado Tailgate Party flyer. Throwing a SlimCado half on the grill sounds fun and, of course, tastes great.”

The company encourages retailers to cross promotion displays, which drives sales. Examples are displays with SlimCados, tomatoes, tomatillos, garlic, onions and mixes, fruit salad displays with pre-cut fruit and whole fruit waiting to be chopped, and smoothies displays. “Get a blender out to help your shoppers beat the summer heat,” Ostlund suggested. “Have them guess the ingredient that makes it green.”

In Brooks’ promotional activities for SlimCados, “Facebook is a must,” said Ostlund. “We post lots of recipes up there.”

From field to table, food-safety is a focus for Brooks Tropicals, Ostlund said in the statement.

“SlimCados are harvested in fields that are food-safety certified, backed up by a packing house and distribution center also hitting high marks in certification.” PTI labels are available from Brooks at customer request.