According to a qualitative study amongst avocado consumers in The Netherlands, trust in the supermarkets is low to non-existent. “It only seldom is accurate”, says one of the respondents about the provided information when buying avocados.
19 respondents visited various supermarkets and bought avocados there. They tested whether the purchased avocados met expectations and were actually ripe. They visited Albert Heijn, Lidl, Aldi, Dirk v/d Broek, Jumbo, Plus and the local market.
“Avocados are a tricky thing. 1/3 times I throw them away.“
– Respondent from consumer research.
Which ripeness does the consumer prefer?
Depends on when they are going to be eaten.
They are looking for an avocado that can be eaten within 1 or 2 days and for later in the week. For example, unripe avocados are fine to use later in the week. But for the day itself, people want a ripe avocado. The choice then falls on loose or plastic-wrapped avocados, which state that they are ready to eat.
Incidentally, consumers believe that plastic packaging is unnecessary, because this is bad for the environment and adds nothing if the information on the packaging is incorrect.
Depends on how they are eaten.
Choices are made based on how the avocado is used. A very soft avocado is perfect for guacamole and smoothies, while avocados with a firmer structure are better for salads or avocado toast.
For large consumers or recipes that require more avocados, it is useful to buy a net with about 7 avocados. However, when someone buys a net and doesn’t use that much, there is a greater risk that they will all ripen at the same time, which in turn creates more food waste.
How the industry can rebuild confidence
The basic reason why trust is so low in supermarket avocados mainly has to do with the provision of correct information. In several respects, this is lacking, or the information is incorrect. Three points that consumers find important:
1. Ready to eat, not fake ripe
Ready-to-eat packaging should make life easy, but all respondents indicate that it is rare that the avocados are ready-to-eat on the day of purchase.
2. Foodwaste due to wrong expectations
On average, 35% of avocados is not meeting the expectations: either the avocado is overripe or not ripe enough. Due to this misunderstanding, between 25-30% of avocados end up in the trash. Consumers could bring it back to the supermarket, but don’t bother to return the avocado and/or don’t feel like arguing.
3. Ripeness indication
In general, consumers don’t have a special plan when buying avocados, unless they are sure they want to make guacamole. In that case, they have to pick a ripe avocado. To help consumers make the right decision, a correct indication at the shelf would help in buying the right avocados. For example, a ripening status for today, ripe in 1 day and ripe in 3 days.
From guessing to knowing
All in all, it is still a gamble for the consumer whether the avocado meets expectations when cut open. That is why it is so important that there is a standard for avocado quality from within the industry.
AVOS Mini, the smart device that measures avocado quality without cutting, is beneficial to the industry. To build up the trust of the consumer, the supermarkets should actually know which avocados are in the supermarkets and for what purpose they can best be used.
“Ready to eat: are usually as unripe as the hard unripe ones, but you learn that in time how that works.”
– Respondent from consumer research.
*The term ‘ripe’ and ‘unripe’ are quite subjective terms outside the fruit industry. Skin colour, fruit texture (hard/soft), rattling kernel, green/yellow flesh are the most common indicators for consumers of how they select and judge their avocados as ripe or unripe.
** Quality here means: whether or not good taste, a reliable purchase in relation to ripeness
Research conducted by Moon Marketing & Communicatie (June, 2021)