From little known “alligator pears” to a nutrition and pop-culture powerhouse, the making of America’s most popular fruit is a story worth telling.

For 20 years, the Hass Avocado Board (HAB) has been focused on making avocados America’s most popular fruit – and it’s working.

Given the beloved nature of avocados in America today, it may be hard to imagine a time when they were not a year-round staple in households from coast-to-coast.

Or, when they were referred to as “alligator pears” and major pockets of the country had never experienced their epic taste much less knew anything about the nutritional powerhouse for which the fruit is now famous.

Avocado splash

avocado crown icon

Avocados are undoubtedly a success story. But, an overnight success? Not so fast.

It has been two decades since the Hass Avocado Board was established to provide national research and marketing initiatives in support of what – at the time – was a somewhat unfamiliar fruit that was incorrectly perceived as high calorie, fattening, and “for guac only.” It’s a stark contrast to today’s reputation of avocados being the good-for-you fruit – ready to be enjoyed any day, any time, and in virtually any cuisine.

The creation of HAB set into motion this dramatic shift in perception, and the ongoing quest to make avocados America’s most popular fruit.

It has taken grit, determination, and a belief among industry visionaries that a “rising tide would float all boats.”

Over time, the total avocado market in the United States has boomed from $1.3 billion in 2003 to more than $7 billion in 2021.

Meanwhile, U.S. avocado consumption has grown to 8.55 lbs. per capita in 2021, up from an average of 2.26 pounds per capita in 2000.

An increase of more than 278% during that timeframe.

increase in avocados per capita

The growth in demand took place all while keeping prices strong for producers and importers.

Independent researchers at the University of California – Davis completed an evaluation of the promotion programs conducted by HAB and its member associations and determined the initiatives played a key role in expanding demand for Hass avocados.

“The Hass avocado success story in the United States, in terms of the rapid increase of per capita consumption, while maintaining stable or increasing prices to producers and importers, has made avocados the envy of the produce industry.”

Richard J. Sexton, Ph.D.,
Distinguished Professor, Department of Agricultural and Resource Economics at the University of California, Davis

sales increase is due to demand, not prices

HAB’s ultimate accomplishment has been its ability to unite the global industry to drive and sustain U.S. demand for avocados – all while keeping grower returns stable to increasing.

The UC-Davis study further indicated that HAB programs delivered a benefit-to-cost ratio ranging from 1.6 to 3.6 to the California producers and importers of Hass avocados who funded them.

cost benefit ratio

Today, HAB is the only independent avocado organization that equips the entire industry for success.

avocado icon

Along the way, while demand soared and grower returns remained solid, avocados achieved pop-culture icon status

Avocados receive more than 2.2 million social mentions every year, more than 950,000 posts with #avocadotoast on Instagram, 400+ mentions on Twitter per hour, thousands of “avocado art” pins on Pinterest, a growing avocado-only restaurant chain and social media memes declaring:

“You Can’t Please Everyone…You’re Not an Avocado.”

As HAB looks forward, the next frontier will focus on continuing to aggressively build demand and drive consumption of avocados.

HAB is deeply committed to continue pursuing and promoting nutrition research discoveries, while addressing growing customer and consumer interest in sustainability issues.

To that end, an Avocado Sustainability Center has recently been established to advance research, education, and communication of the avocado sustainability story in what promises to be one of HAB’s biggest initiatives of the coming decade.

Avocado sustainability

Industry leaders share perspectives about HAB’s accomplishments over the years

“HAB has been making it happen since day one. It has been a job well done bringing together producers, handlers and importers to promote the increased consumption of the Hass avocado in the United States. HAB is a model of interconnectivity in the industry. Now – and into the future – HAB is synonymous with leadership in the industry on a global level.”

Elaine Bannatyne Co-Owner, Rancho Resplandor

“HAB is the single most valuable entity in the avocado industry. Simply, it brings entities that would normally compete and potentially oppose one another, to the table to collaborate, strategize, and work towards a common goal of raising value within the avocado industry. It brings organization, information, transparency, and dollars to the table that add VALUE to all sides of the equation. I don’t know where the industry would be without it.”

Scott Bauwens Former Chairperson and CEO, Simpatica

“The potential for avocados is still growing. HAB is a well-established organization that provides the right information at the right time to benefit all industry stakeholders.”

Jose Antonio Castro Commercial Manager, AgroKasa

“HAB is an unbiased source of so much reliable information. It is the only vehicle capable of providing reliable trustworthy information that the industry needs to provide delicious avocados. HAB is the only place where the entire industry has a seat at the table.”

Salvador Dominguez Chairperson and Producer Director, California

“We are an industry that has emerged from a regional and seasonal product. HAB has created the opportunity to go from niche to mainstream. There are no substitutes for avocados.”

Jim Donovan Former Chairperson

“A rising tide lifts all boats; everything that they do is mutually beneficial for all the stakeholders. The creation of the Hass Avocado Committee was a great way to have all of the international stakeholders have a vote at the table to represent their interests.”

Chris Henry Former Chairperson and Director of Global Development, The Giumarra Companies

“Under Emiliano’s leadership, HAB has become a trusted avocado advocate by effectively providing valuable industry-wide information and leadership on numerous demand-building activities. HAB’s activities help to bring all industry participants together to increase fresh avocado consumption.”

Phil Henry CEO, Henry Avocados

“There was a time when HAB was limited in seeing the global picture of avocados, but that changed with new leadership. Marketing and growth plans took shape; imports and product availability data improved; new talented staff were added. More importantly, communication started flowing to the growing regions and they were invited to participate and plan with the U.S. growers.”

Isabel Freeland Vice President, Coast Tropical

“HAB has worked very hard to make everyone that is on the board feel welcome. They value all comments and contributions. Members feel confident to share their views even though they might be in the minority.”

Susan Pinkerton Producer Director, Strata Holding LP & HAB Board Member

“HAB has done a fantastic job with research and promotion of avocados for the benefit of the whole supply chain, including growers, exporters, importers, wholesalers, retailers, and consumers.”

Jorge Restrepo Executive Director, CorpoHass

“Hiring Emiliano Escobedo was the best thing we ever did. He has helped us tremendously. Dr. Nikki Ford and Gina Widjaja are a dynamic research and marketing duo – a power team. HAB has a solid, phenomenal team that is on the move. The future is very bright.”

Bob Schaar Former International Representation Committee Chairperson and Avocado Grower, California

“HAB has successfully delivered over a 20-year period. They make it happen by continually looking at new ways and channels to get the right messages out to a wide and diverse global audience, while maintaining excellent communication with producers, stakeholders, and industry bodies like New Zealand Avocado, half a world away.”

Jen Scoular CEO, New Zealand Avocados and President of the World Avocado Congress Committee

“HAB does a great job of supporting the industry on various levels. The information that HAB supplies continues to make them relevant every day. HAB is a very unique organization and has been a big part of the success of the avocado industry over the last 20 years.”

Luke Sears President, LGS

“The market has grown; the industry has grown. Retailers and foodservice have benefited. Grower returns are up; good jobs have been created. Communities in avocado-growing regions have been lifted out of hardship. HAB is an economic engine.”

Emiliano Escobedo Hass Avocado Board, Executive Director

“HAB created a different world for avocados in the United States – literally. It is a world-class example of cooperation among competitors to build demand.”

Ramon Paz Vega Third-Generation Avocado Grower and Exporter, Mexico

Learn more about how HAB has been “making it Happen” over the last 20 years