From Resource Pages to Marketing Plan Pivots — CAC Adjusts to COVID-19
Since California Governor Gavin Newsom issued an Executive Order in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the California Avocado Commission (CAC) has monitored the rapidly changing situation and shared the most up-to-date information with California avocado growers to ensure they are kept informed of the latest COVID-19-related industry updates. CAC’s COVID-19 resource page provides industry members with a central location to find:
- Information concerning the current U.S. and California COVID-19 situation
- COVID-19 resources specific to the food and agriculture industry
- Resources for agricultural employers and employees
- COVID-19 loans and financial resources
- Executive orders, directives and critical infrastructure materials
Health and safety have been a priority throughout the pandemic. CAC staff began working from home in mid-March and have maintained contact with industry and legislative members to ensure worker, growing, harvesting and packing procedures adhere to COVID-19 government regulations.
To reassure consumers that the Commission was addressing COVID-19 concerns, the Commission showcased its COVID-19 Update blog post on the homepage of the consumer website. The blog addressed supply chain food safety, provided CDC guidance concerning the safe handling of food and shared instructions concerning how to wash and prepare fresh California avocados.
In light of lifestyle changes resulting from safer-at-home orders, CAC’s marketing team reviewed its marketing plans and quickly shifted its messaging to address consumer concerns about food safety and help them prepare California avocado-centric meals at home as dine-out options diminished. Outdoor advertising and in-person events were replaced by digital alternatives, with a focus on Pinterest and Instagram social channels, as well as the Commission’s The Scoop blog. Working from home, CAC’s marketing team remains engaged with the industry — responding to media requests, discussing the impacts of COVID-19 on the California avocado industry and taking part in phone and video meetings with their industry peers.
With dine-in foodservice closures and consumers encouraged to limit trips to the grocery store, the Commission worked quickly with its foodservice and retail partners to develop new strategies. Foodservice partners shifted to showcasing California avocados on their specialized curbside menus. Retail distribution started within the state and then expanded to include states beyond California’s borders. Although consumers have restricted their visits to grocery stores, California avocados have had a remarkably good early-season performance at retail, outpacing the sales of other fruits with an early-season harvest eight times the size of last year’s at this time. Because of high retail demand, packers moved the majority of the California avocados and secured respectable prices.
The Summer 2020 issue of From the Grove will provide several articles that detail the steps CAC has taken during COVID-19 to ensure the safety of the entire food supply chain, engage with consumers facing a new reality and move the fruit at premium prices.