Friday, June 10, 2011

Growers bank on low-fat

Excerpts from a 5/30/11 article in The Packer by Doug Ohlemeier

Marketing avocados that are lower in fat and cholesterol helps Florida grower-shippers increase demand, shippers say.
Marketers point to their fruit's health benefits. Studies have shown that Florida's green-skinned avocados are low in fat, a little lighter in calories and rich in vitamin A and potassium.

During the 1990s, Brooks Tropicals, LLC. started marketing varieties containing 30 to 50% less fat and 35% fewer calories than their California competitors. In 2001, Homestead, Fla.-based Brooks introduced its SlimCado line.

Bill Brindle, vice president of sales management, said he's optimistic that consumers may be starting to really change their behavior.

Recent news articles have shown that consumers who want to eat healthier are incrementally closing the gap between what they say they want to eat and what they actually consume.

Healthy-option menus - containing items with less than 500 calories - at restaurants such as Applebee's and Denny's have increased to about 8% of those chains' revenue, Brindle said.

He said demand was nonexistent a year or two ago and that it's encouraging that demand for lower-calorie foods is driving restaurants to offer more healthy entrees.

"To me, that means people are putting more interest in what they eat," Brindle said. "That naturally lends itself to eating more fruits and vegetables. By doing that, they're looking for different fruits and vegetables to pique their interest and bring into their diets. Every step of the way, whether with tropicals or particularly SlimCados, which still provide the nutritional benefits of an avocado but with less fat and calories, Florida avocados can have a very good role in that."