Hass Avocado Board Hires Nikki Ford as Its First Nutrition Director

IRVINE, Calif. (Sept. 13, 2013) – The Hass Avocado Board (HAB) today announced that veteran nutritionist and nutrition research specialist Nikki Ford has joined the organization as nutrition director, a newly created position. She reports to executive director Emiliano Escobedo.

“We have been working with top universities and researchers around the country since the research program was established in 2010,” said Escobedo. “The board has determined that building the body of science and generating scientific substantiation for the nutrition, health and wellness benefits of consuming more avocados will be critical to drive avocado demand in the United States. The decision to hire Nikki confirms our long term commitment to this objective.”

Following a decade of various research assignments in Texas and Illinois, Ford joins HAB from her position at the Dell Pediatric Research Institute in Austin, where she also served as an adjunct faculty member at Texas State University.

Ford earned her doctorate in nutritional sciences from the University of Illinois at Urbana – Champaign, following a Bachelor of Science in animal bioscience from Pennsylvania State University. She also holds a Certificate of Business Administration from the University of Illinois.

“One exciting thing about my new role is that I can design studies and fund projects that will look at the impact of avocado consumption on weight loss and weight management. Not many published studies have examined that,” Ford said. “In my first year with HAB, we need to look at the research pipeline, identify what has the greatest potential for early studies and determine what types of barriers must be overcome before more intricate studies can be undertaken.”

Ford has held research positions at both universities and lists a number of teaching and service projects on her resume. Her work has appeared in numerous peer-reviewed publications and she has contributed to several scientific books and numerous abstracts. She maintains a number of professional memberships including in the American Association for Cancer Research and the American Society for Nutrition.

“Our current research pipeline is made up of seven clinical trials focused in cardiovascular health, weight management, diabetes and healthy living,” said Escobedo. “Nikki’s impressive background will increase the complexity and sophistication of this critical program going forward.”

About the Hass Avocado Board

The Hass Avocado Board (HAB) was established in 2002 to promote the consumption of Hass Avocados in the United States. A 12-member board representing domestic producers and importers of Hass Avocados directs the HAB’s promotion, research and information programs under supervision of the United States Department of Agriculture. Hass Avocados are grown in California and imported into the US from Mexico, Chile, Peru, Dominican Republic and New Zealand.

HAB provides industry members and stakeholders with resources that they can use in their day-to-day business operations including retail data research, consumer usage and attitudes research via semiannual tracking studies and consumer insights available at hassavocadoboard.com