The third annual World Avocado Organization (WAO) Annual Meeting welcomed over 250 avocado producers, handlers, exporters, importers, and retail, trade and marketing professionals from over 20 countries around the world to the Ritz-Carlton in Berlin, Germany. WAO elected a new board of directors and shared significant milestone achievements in 2018, including a 35% increase in overall demand resulting in 1.4 billion pounds (650 million kilos) supplied to Europe in 2018 –further establishing the WAO’s brand, The Avocado – the Fruit of Life, around the world.
WAO also announced Chile, Europe’s third largest supplier, as a new member country to the organization. Mr. Nicolas Schmidt of GLS, one of the country’s largest producers, will represent Chile.
“We are excited to add new country member Chile, and expect to add Kenya and Morocco later this year, to join South Africa, Peru, Colombia, Mexico (State of Jalisco), Spain, Tanzania, Zimbabwe, Mozambique, and USA,” said Chairman Zac Bard, Westfalia Fruit. “As avocado consumption continues to rise, WAO is pleased to represent the majority of avocado producing countries in the world.”
WAO also announced the establishment of the China Committee which will be chaired by WAO Director Jose Antonio Gomez-Bazan, Camposol International. The committee will lead the implementation of WAO’s first marketing program in Asia. The focus on China is a natural for WAO as it is considered the second fastest growing market for avocados in the world.
“Since the establishment of WAO in 2016, avocado consumption in Europe is up over 60%,” said Vice-Chair Daniel Bustamante, Agricola Serro Prieto of Peru. “We expect robust growth to continue in the EU and UK as more and more consumers become aware of the health benefits and culinary versatility of avocados.”
During the meeting representatives from Carrefour (France, Spain, Italy and Belgium), Bama (Norway), ICA (Sweden) and Edeka (Germany) discussed examples of retail partnerships being planned for 2019. WAO is expanding top retailer and PR programs from 8 to 11 countries this year, and will include UK, France, Spain, Holland, Germany, Poland, Italy, Belgium, Iceland, Norway and Sweden.
“Following WAO’s exciting collaboration with Michelin Guide’s 110th Edition, Carrefour, the world’s second largest retailer, chose to partner with WAO to implement their first ever marketing program concurrently covering four countries (France, Spain, Italy and Belgium),” said Xavier Equihua, WAO CEO. “WAO will also implement a multi-market marketing program in Europe and introduce its generic brand for avocados in the US during World Avocado Month in June.”
The WAO expects 2019 to be another record breaking and memorable year with large scale retail, trade and foodservice collaborations with some of the biggest names in their respective sectors. These initiatives will be supported by robust and holistic digital and social marketing campaigns worldwide.
As the avocado become the global icon for superfoods, epitomized by the WAO’s first-of-its-kind collaboration with The Michelin Guide, demand is expected to continue to increase in 2019 and beyond.