A versatile food, guacamole is sure to be a favorite for a long time.
In the 2020s, athlete Tom Brady named guacamole as a staple of his plant-based, anti-immunity diet — and Brady had longevity in his football career. In the 1980s, actress Angie Dickinson named avocado’s nutrients (vitamins A, B1, C, E, potassium, niacin, iron) while spooning it from a half shell — and her figure lived up to the TV commercial’s tagline, “Would this body lie to you?”
No matter how you spoon it, guacamole from avocados is delicious and nutritious. And it’s winning over a multitude of consumers at the grocery store. Per Statista, U.S. avocado consumption grew to 2.7 billion pounds in 2020, from 436 million pounds in 1985.
Refrigerated guacamole is found in the deli section at grocery stores. Whipped up from fresh avocados, tomatoes and onions, guacamole often contains cilantro, jalapeno, salt, lime juice and garlic, too.
“Sabra Guacamole is made with premium ingredients and is as delicious as you would expect from homemade but so convenient,” says Kamila De Maria, director of brand marketing, Sabra in White Plains, NY.
She says consumers enjoy its authentic taste and texture, and enjoy guacamole in recipes or as a delicious way to boost plant intake.
As retailers are aware, guacamole has grown beyond its use in meals at Mexican restaurants.
“Guacamole was used to top tacos, enchiladas and as a dip with chips,” says Tara Murray, vice president of marketing for Fresh Innovations, LLC in Rhome, TX. “Now it is common in our lexicon. People use guacamole for avocado toast, as a dressing on salads, as a replacement for mayonnaise on sandwiches.”
Fresh Innovations makes ¡Yo Quiero! guacamole, salsa and queso.
As guacamole has grown in popularity, it has been promoted for usage in everything from breakfast smoothies to lunch wraps to dinner entrées.
“Guacamole is just on fire, and avocado is everywhere. We are seeing people using guacamole in ways they hadn’t envisioned in the past, says Kate Brooks, senior vice president for prepared division, Calavo Growers, Inc. in Santa Paula, CA.
Calavo sells tubs, 16-ounce trays and 8-ounce trays of guacamole. The majority of its retail business is private label. “Retailers will buy our spreader pulp as a base, and add pico or whatever they want to add, to tailor it to their demographic,” Brooks says.
THE TRENDS — TEXTURES AND SIZES
When it comes to trends, chunky guacamole has been growing in popularity as compared to smooth. And consumers are putting it on chicken, steaks and protein bowls, to capitalize on the health benefits.
“I think from a retail standpoint, you want to have it as authentic and handmade as possible. With more chunks, not a perfect appearance. Nobody wants a smooth guacamole. That is a continuous ask from our partners: how to make it look like it was hand scooped,” says Brooks.
“Today, the savvy consumer is looking for avocado products because the avocado is a nutrient dense fruit. It is loaded with vitamins and minerals and is great for gut and brain health,” says Murray.
Since guacamole can be a meal or snack choice throughout the day, shoppers prefer a variety of sizes. In the deli aisle, grocers are wise to stock a 15-ounce party size, an 8-ounce container for lunch/dinner, and 2-ounce minis for snacking (they come in a 4-pack or 6-pack).
“Minis are perfect for throwing in a lunchbox to put on your salad or sandwich, or to use as a dip for carrots or chips. Those minis freeze beautifully. You can use a mini as a gel pack to keep your sandwich cool. By the time you are ready for lunch, you have a little piece of heaven,” says Murray.
A popular option for children’s lunch boxes, minis are a wise choice because guacamole contains avocado, whereas ranch dip contains oil. And minis come in several flavors.
“Our Sabra Guacamole Singles in Classic and Spicy 2 ounce are beloved for easy on-the-go snacking. Sabra’s Guacamole with Tostitos Rolls Tortilla Chips are a great choice for those avoiding gluten,” says Sabra’s De Maria.
NEW PRODUCTS AND FLAVORS
Today, guacamole comes in original, plus newer flavors like spicy or combinations like guacamole salsa. Sweet fruits and chili are possible adds to the popular spread.
“Chunky spicy is our newest guacamole product. We’ve taken the popular chunky flavor profile and added more jalapenos. It is great,” says Murray of Fresh Innovations.
“Sabra offers a delicious variety from Classic Guacamole with Lime, and Mexican Street Corn Inspired Guacamole in sizes ideal for sharing, as well as single-serve Breakfast Avocado Toast featuring crispy whole grain toasts,” says De Maria.
Companies are also creating products that help customers make guacamole at home. ¡Yo Quiero! by Fresh Innovations sells mashed avocado, and Calavo sells avocado chunks. Litehouse Inc. markets a Guacamole Herb & Spice Blend composed of freeze-dried spices (red onion, cilantro, chili, garlic) plus lemon peel, tomato and cumin.
“Our Guacamole Herb Blend is a great solution for quick and easy guacamole — just add fresh avocado, lime juice and salt,” says Kate Nees, Litehouse brand manager.
Partnering up can mean new products in the deli department. Under an exclusive license, Calavo will produce guacamoles and salsas for the Old El Paso label, which is part of General Mills. “It is all fresh product; it needs to be refrigerated. Our best case is it is sold on an end cap, so consumers can draw a connection between our product and taco shells, seasonings,” says Brooks of Calavo.
MARKETING AND MERCHANDISING
Refrigerated guacamole can be marketed as preservative-free, which makes it an attractive choice for the health conscious. Shelf life is extended through high-pressure processing (HPP), a non-thermal food preservation technique. Under HPP, guacamole (in its sealed container) is subjected to high levels of hydrostatic pressure. HPP inactivates the enzyme that darkens the color of avocado, so the green color is protected on the grocery store shelf and at home in the refrigerator.
To market guacamole in general, companies turn to social media platforms, and to promotions and partnerships with retail.
“We partner with our retailers and create social campaigns that drive traffic into their stores. And during peak times, we offer trade deals as well as digital, load-to-card offers to increase excitement on shelf as well as consumer trials,” says Murray of Fresh Innovations.
“We often hear from people who discovered Sabra guacamole from a friend or heard about it from a classmate. Our favorites are the adorable videos fans share or tag us in featuring young children enjoying every last bit of guacamole with a favorite chip or veggie. We also cross promote with hummus. This was an effective approach for the Super Bowl for example, when people are looking to share delicious variety of dips and spreads,” says De Maria of Sabra.
As far as merchandising guacamole, themed tie-ins are a hit. Cinco de Mayo is a huge holiday for the spread.
“For Cinco de Mayo, most of the stores will have promotions on guacamole with similar items, whether it’s beer, taco shells, tortillas, shredded cheese, bagged lettuce. Cinco de Mayo is the second biggest guacamole holiday after the Super Bowl. Stores create attractive displays, and put up balloons, paper plates, bright colors and offer lots of deals. The store becomes a one-stop shop for customers that want to have their party needs handled,” says Murray.
To attract Cinco de Mayo hosts intent on making homemade guacamole, product placement is key to successful sales.
“Merchandising Litehouse Guacamole Herb Blend next to avocados and limes creates a convenient destination for guacamole enthusiasts, but this could also be replicated on an end cap with tortilla chips or pretzels,” says Nees of Litehouse.
To simplify things for party attendees, stores can bundle guacamole near fresh store-made chips.
“I see guacamole frequently cross-merchandised in stores that take on frying their own tortilla chips — particularly around events where guacamole is central for entertaining. Fresh-made tortilla chips are great. If you are in a hurry and headed to a party, grab this and the guacamole and be on your way,” says Brooks of Calavo.
STRENGTH OF SALES
When it comes to guacamole, Hass avocados are a wonderful base ingredient because they have a high fat content and are more creamy and buttery than other varieties. In the U.S., Hass avocados have a 97% sales share.
“The Hass Avocado Board, which supports the overall research and promotion of Hass avocados from every growing region, reports that the consumption of avocados is up 278% since 2000, growing from 2.26 pounds to an astonishing 8.55 pounds in just the last 20 years,” says William Watson, Managing Director of the Colombia Avocado Board in Orlando, FL.
“According to the Hass Avocado Board, by 2026 the consumption will be over 11 pounds per person. And with packaged guacamole, consumers appreciate the fresh taste and convenience,” says Murray of Fresh Innovations.
By selling quality guacamole, companies encourage consumers to skip the peeling, slicing, dicing and mashing needed to make homemade product.
“I think there are a good deal of consumers who are still intimidated to make their own guacamole. Or prefer the convenience of being able to put out something they trust to be flavorful and authentic,” says Brooks.
As more consumers discover guacamole, the upward trend in creative consumption is expected to continue. Especially because it’s low-calorie, heart-healthy and nutrient-boosting.
“It’s safe to say that we don’t know what the upper limits of consumption are. What we do know is from guacamole to avocado toast, sandwich toppings and everything in between avocados have become a staple in consumer diets creating super-user consumers, but there are still many more consumers who have yet to discover avocados making the sales opportunities even greater than we can imagine,” says Watson of the Colombia Avocado Board.
“Category sales continue to be up in guacamole and why not? It is such a versatile food, sure to be a favorite for a long time,” adds De Maria of Sabra.