How to Merchandise for a Successful Cinco de Mayo Promotion in the Produce Department

April 26, 2018


In Mexico, Cinco de Mayo is a storied holiday celebrating the Mexican army’s defeat of the French occupation at the Battle of Pueblo back in 1862 marked by historical reenactments and cultural festivals. Here in the U.S., the holiday means different things to different people, but to most it’s a day to celebrate Mexican-American culture by indulging in a very Mexican-American meal. Margaritas, salsa, and definitely guacamole are on the menu.


For retailers, Cinco de Mayo is avocado promotional opportunity numero uno. During the week leading up to the holiday, retailers see some of the highest sales of the year in dollars and volume. In 2017, retailers nationally saw avocado sales increase by 34% the week of Cinco de Mayo. How can you maximize volume during this promotional opportunity? Here are our top tips for a record-breaking Cinco de Mayo promotion.


Promote the Perfect Avocado

When consumers are shopping for avocados, they’ll typically look for fruit that has a light give to gentle pressure. Rock hard fruit typically gets put down. However, similarly, overripe fruit leaves a bad impression when the consumer returns home only to find the avocado unusable.


It’s essential to nail the perfect ripeness, and if possible, offer fruit at two or three stages of ripeness according to the needs of the consumer. Retailers that offer conditioned avocados at different stages of ripeness report boosts in sales, especially during the Cinco de Mayo rush.


We recommend that retailers offer avocados at the following three stages of ripeness during holiday promotions (the Super Bowl and Cinco de Mayo) and over the entire summer season in order to serve the needs of every segment of consumer:


  • “Hard Fruit” for The Planner: Offer a stage 2 or 3 for folks who shop ahead of time and aren’t looking to use the avocado immediately, or even within the coming few days after purchase.


  • “Firm Ripe” for The Creative Avoodie: Offer a stage 4 for folks who will be slicing and consuming the fruit either that day or the very next.


  • “Ripe” for The Last-Minute Guacamoler: During a regular week, merch unsold stage 3 fruit that has progressed to stage 4 or 5 as “guacamole-ready”. For promotional weeks in which demand is anticipated to be high, ask for fruit to be delivered at Stage 4 (in addition to 3) in order to ensure supply for guacamole-hungry shoppers looking to guac-it-up that night.


Educate the Consumer

Signage is crucial when it comes to merchandizing multiple stages of avocado ripeness. Use separate, but adjacent, bins or baskets with clear signage to indicate the stages of ripeness of each avocado display along with the intended usage of each so consumers can easily identify the avocado that’s right for them. To increase the shelf life on ripe avocados, keep a basket of “guacamole-ready” avocados in a refrigerated coffin (avoid the wet case, if possible).


Other signage with information or tips that may benefit the shopper are the following:


  • How to indicate ripeness. Don’t rely on the color of the avocado to indicate ripeness. Occasionally, a fully ripened fruit will still have a green skin, not the dark, mossy black color consumers anticipate. The best method for testing ripeness is to hold the fruit in the palm of your hand and give the avocado a gentle squeeze. It should yield under the pressure. Avoid using fingertips to press into the avocado, as this can damage the flesh.


  • How long it takes for a hard (stage 1) avocado to ripen. Hard fruit will ripen anywhere between 6-8 days at room temp, but it can vary based on time of year, and the bloom of the avocado tree. Some avocados may not hit full ripeness until 10 days or more!


  • What to do with ripe avocados that aren’t being immediately used. If a ripe avocado is left out at room temperature, it will start to turn within 2-3 days. To prolong the fruit’s shelf life at this stage, it should be placed in the refrigerator as soon as possible.


  • What to do with a cut avocado. To avoid oxidation (when the flesh begins to turn brown due to air exposure) of cut avocados, there are a handful of tricks to try: Some brush the avocado with lemon juice and seal it away; others store the fruit with cut onion; and it’s also said that brushing the cut side with olive oil and sealing in a container does the job. The best bet is to cut off air exposure to the cut avocado by sealing the fruit in an air tight container or plastic wrap, and placing it in the fridge.


Cross Merchandise


Avocados beg for companionship. Take advantage of the opportunity to build the basket with an array of Mexican-focused products. Include the classic guacamole ingredients such as Roma tomatoes, white and red onions, jalapenos, and cilantro. And, aside from the guacamole assembling basics, try tapping into consumers’ culinary creativity with a selection of Mexican specialty items, too.


Offer a small basket of super-hot and fruity-flavored habanero peppers (along with a few gloves so consumers don’t have to touch the pepper’s potent skin). Smoky poblano peppers or mild anaheims offer interesting alternatives to the classic jalapeno, too.


Display the fruit alongside jicama, a Mexican staple. This root vegetable is currently positioned as one of 2018’s next food trends, gaining popularity due to its versatility and health benefits. It’s even becoming a major player in the taco trend as an alternative, gluten-free taco shell.


Mango is one of the fastest growing commodities in the fruit category, and is increasingly becoming an ingredient in dishes like guacamole and salsa. Luckily, Cinco de Mayo falls at the beginning of the Mexican mango season, so the timing is perfect for a large display of competitively priced, super sweet mangoes.


Other Mexican products to add a creative splash to a Cinco de Mayo display include chayote squash, a versatile mild squash that can be used just as you would zucchini; tomatillos, a must have for salsa verde; and red radishes.


Don’t Forget the Booze!

Build a picture for customers with a colorful margarita display cross-merched with margarita mix, salt, and other CPG items. Anchor the produce display with key limes and add additional inspiration for creative cocktails shoppers can easily make at home:


  • Blood oranges boast a flesh that is equally juicy as is vibrant. Not only are they an aesthetically pleasing fruit, they’re a popular orange for margaritas, both as garnish and ingredient. These beauties can also be used in cosmopolitans, mimosas, or a tequila spritzer.


  • Mexican guava is very refreshing with a tropical taste similar to that of a pear, plus mango and strawberry. An easy-to-make cocktail with only four ingredients is guava, lime, fresh mint, and tequila.


  • Kiwano is a showstopper. With a unique horned skin, and a jelly flesh that tastes like a cross between lime, cucumber, banana, and passion fruit, it will certainly make shoppers stop in their tracks. While this fruit plays well in margaritas, it can also be incorporated into other libations like a blended kiwano colada.


Secure a Partner

To make the promotion of the perfect avocado a reality, it’s essential for retailers to have a ripening partner that can support a robust fruit ripening program, and deliver not just avocados, but mangoes and bananas, at whatever stages desired.


And retailers shouldn’t stop with custom fruit ripening services, they ought to find a supplier that can offer split cases on ethnic specialty items that allow for experimentation with a range of items, while also minimizing the risk of shrink.


Experimenting with specialty items can help retailers identify the perfect product mix for their specific consumer segments. And while experimentation is worthwhile, understanding the products at hand are, of course, equally important. That’s why working with a partner who is willing to provide point of sale information and trainings on products is essential to a retailer’s selling success.



Posted by:
Danielle Columbo

Avocado, Cinco de Mayo, In-Store Sales, Food Retail, Merchandising, Promotions, Specialty Produce, Fruit, Vegetables, Produce

Share this:

Sign Up For Our Mailing List!