Onsite Events Revive Opportunities to Showcase California Avocado Menu Items in Person
With the return of in-person events, the California Avocado Commission once again has the opportunity to build awareness and expand penetration of fresh California avocados on foodservice chain menus by serving unique and inspirational menu items to key foodservice chain decision makers. In September, CAC celebrated the California avocado season with R&D/product innovation, corporate and executive chefs, purchasing/supply chain and marketing personnel from restaurant chains across the nation at the Flavor Experience conference and FoodOvation Second Harvest event.
The Flavor Experience conference took place in Monterey, California from September 6 – 8. During the three-day event, attendees sampled three trend-forward California avocado menu ideas designed to inspire chains to add fresh California avocados to their menus. The California Avocado Cacio e Pepe Grilled Cheese Sandwich featured the popular flavors of the Cacio e Pepe pasta dish with the California avocados balancing its peppery flavor and adding a buttery texture to the crunch of the grilled bread. The CAC foodservice team also served the newly created California Avocado Bloody Mary Sandwich — a reimagining of the flavor profile of a Bloody Mary using all the fixings of a sandwich. The California avocados incorporated into this unique menu presentation toned down the spicy flavors of this recipe while adding a buttery richness. Attendees also enjoyed an Asian-Latino fusion menu item: a Birria Lamb in Bao Bun with California Avocado Slaw and Pickled California Avocado.
Members of CAC’s foodservice team also met and networked with marketing, culinary/menu development executives and supply chain/purchasing decision-makers at the Flavor Experience conference. Conversations focused on proposing and planning menu items featuring fresh California avocados in 2021.
The invitation-only FoodOvation Second Harvest event took place from September 26 – 28 in Sun Valley, Idaho. Here, the foodservice team hosted 40-minute one-on-one meetings with specific target chains in the western region, as well as with national chain representatives who expressed interest in U.S./California-grown avocados. During these in-person sessions, the CAC team discussed seasonality and why California avocados are the premium choice. They also walked through a demo exercise pairing California avocados with spices to build unique flavor profiles and then conducted tasting sessions of menu concepts while discussing how the concepts could fit within the chain’s menu offerings. The concepts presented included: Whipped Feta Dip with California Avocados, California Avocado Sushi Roll Salad, BLT-California Avocados with an Upscale Twist; and Birria Tacos with Pickled California Avocados. Organizers of the event informed the team that many of the operators complemented the California avocado session and spoke positively about the flavor pairing exercise and flavorful dishes presented.
Both of these events were a welcome return to in-person meetings that provided the Commission with the opportunity to increase demand of fresh California avocados by showcasing menu items attendees could sample for themselves. The menu items served as a powerful conversation piece that allowed CAC staff to elaborate on why consumers who enjoy avocados are attuned to the source of origin of the fruit and to demonstrate the positive associations and “halo effect” of California avocados on the menu. By meeting one-on-one with attendees, the Commission was able to expand its target base of chain contacts for future promotion opportunities and cement existing relationships. Overall, 28 new contacts were made with an additional six new leads for menu ideation sessions and five new leads for menu promotion support.