“STOP SQUEEZING THE AVOCADOS” – RETAILERS

In a bid to stop shoppers squeezing avocados to test the fruit’s ripeness, a new initiative that sees ripe and unripe avocados separated on shelves has been met with a resounding success. The number of bruised fruit has been halved and also seen a rise in avocado sales.

Research has shown that 97 percent of customers gave avocados a squeeze to test its ripeness before buying, which caused brown marks on the flesh once it was cut into.

The avocado industry enlisted a marketing company to find a way for consumers to know about the avocados ripeness at the point of sale.

Ensuring that ripe fruit was available in store was the first step for Produce Marketing Australia chief executive John Baker to determine. “The second was to then segregate the fruit on display according to the stages of ripeness,” said Baker.

The shelves are colour coded as to whether the fruit is ripe or not, alongside informative signage.

“For the ripe fruit it’s ‘buy now, eat now’ and for the not-so-ripe fruit it’s ‘buy now, eat later'”

The cost-effective system could be implemented by each store individually. The resources were sent to each store and set up by store-staff. “This system for retailers can be implemented for around $50 – that’s the display pads and the customised header cards.”

An online training programme is also in the works to assist staff with best practices for ordering, receiving, storing and educating them on avocados.

“You’re never going to eliminate people squeezing avocados, I think it’s one of those lifelong habits – but it’s certainly created a significant reduction in squeezing.”

The new system has been pitched to all grocery retailers and has already been implemented by IGA.