Kaitlyn Ahrbeck

Thursday, Feb. 4, 2016

Guacamole growing Super Bowl MVP snack food

This Sunday, football fans should only worry about the final score in the Super Bowl, not the guacamole bowl running out. Mexico is making sure of that, exporting millions of avocados to guacamole-crazed Americans for the game.

Forget Cinco de Mayo or the Fourth of July — U.S. consumers slam down more guacamole during the Super Bowl than any other day. As many as 139 million pounds of avocados will be consumed this Super Bowl week, an increase from 120 million pounds last year, according to the California Avocado Commission.

The tradition is almost as mainstream as chicken wings — though not quite. Chicken wings still outsell guacamole by about 1 billion, according to the Washington, D.C.-based National Chicken Council. But avocado growth is on the rise, largely because the health benefits of avocados have been gaining interest in the U.S.

Phoenix-area restaurants, supermarkets and bars are packed with avocados, many of them originating in the Mexican central state of Michoacán.

“There is more interest in guacamole and avocados,” said Irving Rodriguez, owner of Así Es La Vida restaurant, one of several in the Phoenix area expected to see a spike over the weekend. “Case studies show all the good qualities that avocados have to offer, so it makes since to make more guacamole.”

Jose Serpas, store director at the Phoenix Ranch Market, agreed. He has seen a trend in customers buying more avocados in the last four years.

“It seems like everyone is leaning toward making more guacamole,” Serpas said. “It’s actually replacing a lot of salsas.”

Everyone has their own special way to make guacamole. Rodriguez, for instance, has a traditional approach to his guacamole recipe.

“The ingredients will be fresh-chopped tomato, onions, cilantro, a little bit of finely chopped jalapeno, salt and pepper to taste,” Rodriguez said as one of his chefs prepared a sample.

Although the methods of making guacamole vary, one ingredient always remains the same: avocados.

Danny Mark, produce manager at Los Altos Ranch Market in Phoenix, said store sales rose by 26 percent during last year’s Super Bowl week.

“People see the health benefits to eating avocados,” Mark said. “It’s one of the healthy fats that people consume.”

Results from the 2001-2008 National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey showed that “avocado consumption is associated with improved overall diet quality, nutrient intake, and reduced risk of metabolic syndrome.”

In Phoenix, 83 percent of avocado purchases are made by people with Hispanic origins, according to the 2015 Avocado Tracking Study. Hispanic households put more emphasis on the health benefits of avocados.

Mexico has ramped up avocado promotion efforts at this year’s Super Bowl with a space-themed avocado ad . The ad will cost about $4.5 million dollars for a thirty-second ad, according to the the Dallas-based organization Avocados From Mexico.

The organization makes up nearly 80 percent of the U.S. market, up 2 percent from 2015.

Last year, the organization’s Super Bowl ad ranked 23 out of 61 on the USA Today’s Super Bowl Ad Meter. The company is utilizing social media in its advertising campaign. An interactive space game on the company’s website allows people to tweet out and win prizes using the hashtag #AvosInSpace.

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