Avocado Ripeness Study Provides Insights into Consumer Purchase Decisions
Understanding the behaviors behind a shopper’s decision-making process is a key component of increasing sales of California avocados. To that end, the Commission conducted an Avocado Ripeness Study during the 2021 California avocado season at Tier 1 retail account locations to gain insight into shoppers’ avocado ripeness level preferences and the role those preferences play in determining their purchase decisions.
In 2002, a quantitative consumer study conducted by CAC discovered 77% of avocado consumers planned to eat their avocados on the same or following day of purchase. CAC’s 2021 study suggests trends are changing — today’s consumers are looking to purchase avocados they can enjoy the day of purchase as well as later in the week. Further, respondents noted they rarely purchase avocados for same day use only. Another significant change from 2002 is that the majority of those surveyed indicated they preferred avocados to be slightly underripe, rather than overripe, to ensure they have the flexibility to use the fruit over a period of days.
Shoppers indicated they gauge avocado ripeness based on the fruit’s appearance, color and firmness. When looking for fruit to consume the day of purchase, they opt for bulk avocados because they can easily assess an individual piece of fruit’s ripeness — despite considering bulk avocados the more expensive option.
When it comes to choosing avocados they will use in the next three to five days, shoppers indicated a preference for bagged avocados because of the perceived value and convenience they offer. Participants also noted that if available, they would prefer a variety of ripeness levels of avocados in the bag so they could use the avocados over time. Consumers also have a strong awareness of how to adjust the ripening of avocados at home, including storing avocados in the refrigerator to slow the ripening process or expediting it by placing the fruit in a paper bag.
The study also helped the Commission determine if selected retail accounts are meeting shopper preferences. CAC noted select retailers are crafting displays based on shoppers’ ripeness preferences, including avocado displays that feature adjacent sections of avocados that are “ripe now” and that will be “ripe in a few days.” Retailers often stack the ripest avocados on top of firmer ones, helping shoppers select the ripest fruit and protecting the softer fruit.
Insights from this qualitative ripeness study can have an impact on sales. The Commission is sharing key findings with handlers and retailers including the following recommendations:
Shoppers are looking for multiple levels of ripeness when selecting avocados, therefore they should consider providing a variety of ripeness levels of bulk California avocados and offering bagged avocados with multiple levels of ripeness per package
Shoppers indicated they consider country of origin and show preference for California avocados, so displays should showcase that the fruit is grown In California
Providing recipes and usage ideas for California avocados can offer shoppers meal inspiration for perfectly ripe and soon-to-be ripe avocados