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Avocados From Mexico CEO Explains Success

Avocados from Mexico | Image by Avocados From Mexico

Fresh off its Super Bowl commercial, the Irving, Texas-based marketing firm Avocados From Mexico (AFM) is continuing its momentum as one of the most innovative companies in the world.

In 2021, Fast Company named Avocados From Mexico the most innovative brand worldwide, ahead of tech giants Apple and Google, a remarkable feat for a company that promotes a fruit.

Still, the name may breed confusion.

The company, formed in 2013, was a joint venture between the Association of Avocado Exporting Producers and Packers of Mexico and the Mexican Hass Avocado Importer Association to create a non-profit marketing organization.

It was the first time in history that two international organizations collaborated, facilitated by the United States Department of Agriculture, to promote the growing demand for avocados in the United States.

During winter, 99% of all avocados sold in the U.S. come from Mexico, according to the Avocados From Mexico website. Most of them are grown in the state of Michoacan, which produces 50% of the world’s avocados, according to the World Economic Forum.

“There’s a magical situation with Michoacan that doesn’t happen anywhere else on the planet. Most other places only have one bloom per year, but in Michoacan, the same tree will give you four blooms instead of one,” Avocados From Mexico CEO Alvaro Luque told The Dallas Express.

“It’s the only place on Earth with non-stop production from January to December, and that’s why it’s so strong in world production,” he said.

For 25 years, Michoacan was the only Mexican state approved by the United States to bring avocados to the U.S. until Jalisco was approved last year.

Avocados From Mexico does not sell any product but exists solely to promote the consumption of the fruit in the United States, which since 2005 has more than tripled in the United States, according to Statista.

“The avocado market from Mexico to the U.S. started in 1997. The Association of Avocado Exporting Producers and Packers of Mexico was investing in marketing to grow the category to little success. On the U.S. side, avocados became part of the checkoff programs that were run by the USDA,” Luque said.

“Until these guys learned that marketing separately was not the right way to do it, [then] they decided to come together and create a company. And this is the first time in history that two foreign associations, through the government of the United States, decided to create a marketing company, and that’s us,” Luque explained.

“Even though we are called Avocados from Mexico, the reality is that we don’t sell avocados, and we are not from Mexico. We are 100% an American marketing company,” said Luque. “And what we do is take all the funds from Mexico and other funds from the U.S. to create a marketing program to develop a brand for Mexico and accelerate the number of avocados in the U.S.”

The funds he referred to come from the 2.5 cents per pound tax on avocados imported into the U.S., which partly funds the company’s marketing efforts.

Luque says his company is the number one marketing program for produce in the U.S. That is partly why his company was able to buy advertisements for the past eight Super Bowls.

“It’s a $4 billion market in the U.S., and we have doubled the size in seven years,” he said.

The defining characteristic of the brand’s success, according to Luque, is the company’s approach to marketing avocados like a consumer packaged goods company (CPG) would and not as a produce company typically would.

“One of the things that we saw as an opportunity is: Why don’t we have the mentality of CPG brands and bring all the CPG marketing that we know into programs? And that’s how everything started, because my whole background is in CPG,” Luque said.

“So I built up a team of marketers that are coming, not from onions, carrots, and tomatoes, but from Procter [& Gamble], Budweiser, Coca-Cola, and Pepsi, and bringing all that experience into production. And that’s why, using that lens, we decided very early on that we wanted to participate in the Super Bowl,” Luque said.

In 2015, AFM became the first produce brand to advertise in the big game.

“From there on, the brand exploded in the U.S., from being unrecognized to now a staple in the Super Bowl,” Luque told The Dallas Express. 

This innovative marketing approach led the company to be named #1 on Fast Company’s Most Innovative Brands list.

“Knowing how big TikTok is in the world, it was amazing to see our branding in first place,” he said.

While AFM is national, the company has launched several experiential programs here in Dallas, including the first avocado concession stand in a stadium, AvoEats, at the American Airlines center.

“The other fun thing we’re doing in Dallas is renewing our offices, creating the first avocado lab, and offering tours where we will not only have the culinary centers that we already have for clients and community members here in Dallas but also create a mixology experience with avocados in our offices,” Luque said.

“We wanted to ensure that everyone who wants to innovate and think differently with our fruit will have their playground here for them to do whatever they want,” he said.

Now that the football season is over, AFM is looking ahead and preparing for its second-most significant day of the year, Cinco de Mayo, and Luque is excited about all the innovations he is bringing to the industry.

“It’s one of those foods that will not only make you feel healthier, but you’ll also have a great time while enjoying it. So we have that powerful combination,” Luque said.

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