How Avocados From Mexico Is Breaking the Produce Mold to Keep Up With the Superfruit’s Industry Boom

After closing a record fiscal year of 2.4 billion pounds of avocados imported, Avocados from Mexico CEO and President Alvaro Luque talks company culture, investing in innovation, and how to reinvent marketing for produce by focusing on the "triangle of power."

Avocados From Mexico was named one of Fast Company’s World’s Most Innovative Companies this year for good reason. Amid the COVID pandemic, the company saw a boom in its industry—and a record-breaking fiscal year of 2.4 billion pounds of imported avocados. 

Whether it’s on your toast or in a TV commercial, Avocados from Mexico are everywhere. The Irving-based nonprofit marketing organization, which promotes the benefits of the superfruit, concluded a successful year with numbers that were up 13 percent from 2020 and 18 percent from 2019, showcasing its progress and positioning for continued growth. 

A diverse staff that’s driving “firsts”

Though its staff is just 34 strong, Avocados From Mexico has at least eight different nationalities in its offices and is around 60 percent female.

The company recently promoted two female executives. Ivonne Kinser is the new vice president of marketing and innovation, and Ana Ambrosi is now director of corporate communications, crisis, and public relations. The duo will make for a more powerful public relations program, the company said.

From left: Avocados From Mexico’s Ivonne Kinser was named VP of marketing and innovation, while Ana Ambrosi was appointed director of corporate communications, crisis, and PR. [Photos: AFM]

Avocados From Mexico prides itself on achieving “firsts” and driving impact since day one. Its new leadership team is meant to reflect its progressive evolution.

Both Kinser and Ambrosi are equipped with the digital dynamism that mirrors AFM’s corporate narrative and marquee events, like The Big Game and Cinco de Mayo. In their new roles, both women will work to continue raising the bar by increasing performance through innovation. 

“Ana and Ivonne have demonstrated unmatched results and passion within and for our organization,” said Alvaro Luque, president and CEO of Avocados From Mexico. “They truly represent our innovative spirit, and I couldn’t be more excited about what our future as an organization holds. This year will be our most innovative year yet.”

Avocados are booming

Since the U.S. market fully opened to Mexican imports in 2007, avocado consumption rates have quadrupled. Even during the pandemic, the Mexican avocado industry, which represents more than 80 percent of the total U.S. avocado market, exported more than 2.12 billion pounds to the U.S., up 5 percent from the year before.

Unlike most in the industry, Avocados From Mexico hasn’t experienced any shortages or supply chain snags. In fact, it doubled in the market in just seven years.

The team attributes its success to an unparalleled business strategy. 

[Photo: Avocados from Mexico]

Breaking the produce mold

A marketer his entire professional life, President and CEO Alvaro Luque has nearly three decades of international marketing and general management experience in packaged consumer goods and produce in Latin America and the U.S.

Working to defy established paradigms while simultaneously delivering impressive results, Luque believes the company’s biggest advantage has been its ability to reinvent marketing for produce by breaking the mold, thinking outside of the box, and creating a first-of-its-kind brand. 

Alvarro Luque, CEO and President, Avocados From Mexico [Photo: AFM]

“I believe that America is completely in love with our avocados and the reason that we think our company has played a role in  this craziness is because of what people often refer to as a triangle of power,” Luque told Dallas Innovates. 

When analyzing market foods, three areas control a product’s success: tastiness, trendiness, and healthiness.

Compared to kale (which leans healthy) or candy (which leans tasty), avocados cover the triangle pretty well. The fruit is known for its taste and benefits, making Avocados From Mexico its built-in brand ambassador.

A niche job: making avocados fun

Luque knows other commodities in the U.S. are also good for you and have a nice story behind them. However, he believes that if you want to really have a presence in consumer minds, you need a brand that taps into your audience’s emotions. That has to kick off at the corporate level. 

“It’s not only the objective story that we come from Mexico, and that we’re going to give you good fats, vitamins, and minerals,” he says. “It’s all that combined with the feeling of believing in a brand. That starts with your team liking the brand they work for.”

A walk inside AFM’s HQ

From the moment you walk into its Irving headquarters, Avocados From Mexico’s company culture is encapsulated in color.

Its operating guidelines are sprawled across the walls, aiming to empower and inspire all individuals to live by them.

[Photo: Avocados from Mexico]

The guidelines include: spread the magic of Mexicanity; be the strategic category catalyst; focus on value, not price; be an outlier to break the produce mold; educate, educate, educate; act as a responsible category leader; celebrate wins, and then improve them; develop the best people in the industry; and work hard, but always have fun.

Investing in innovation 

Avocados From Mexico’s goal is to ignite and invest in innovation to reach its ultimate goal: making avocado loving a lifestyle. 

The company uses its website to provides recipes, how-to’s, nutrition facts, and blog posts so consumers are not just engaged, but able to expand their horizons when using avocados. Building on that is an online microsite launched last year called Guacabilities.com “to help the foodservice industry unlock the power of guacamole in innovative ways.” 

In 2017, AFM opened a Culinary Innovation Center at its Irving headquarters and created Avocado University. In addition, the group opened AvoEatery, the “world’s first polished-casual avocado restaurant,” last year to offer locals an avocado-centric dining experience in Dallas’ Trinity Groves.

[Photo: AvoEatery]

Recently, the company launched the Avocado Institute, a platform that offers a behind-the-scenes look at the industry. Created by the parent organizations of Avocados From Mexico, the Association of Avocado Exporting Producers and Packers of Mexico (APEAM) and the Mexican Hass Avocado Importers Association (MHAIA), the one-stop digital resource aims to educate consumers on the city of Michoacán, its commitment to sustainability, and a step-by-step chronicle of an avocado’s journey. 

“We are thrilled that our parent organizations are launching the Avocado Institute to further educate people about the magic behind our beloved fruit,” Luque said. “From family farms in Michoacán to our impressive international supply chain, the new resource is full of facts and stories about our industry and its benefits on both sides of the border.”

Celebrating a win-win

An economic analysis from Texas A&M University concluded that in the 2019-2020 season, $2.82 billion of U.S. imports of Mexican Hass avocados contributed $4 billion in value added U.S. GDP, $2.2 billion in U.S. labor income, and more than 33,000 U.S. jobs for American workers.  

“Unprecedented imports of Mexican avocados have equated to significant benefits for the U.S.,” Ron Campbell, executive director of MHAIA, said. “The analysis Texas A&M University conducted gives us hard data on the impact our industry has made, and will continue to make, on the economy in both countries.”   

Mexico heavily benefits from the avocado industry and growing American consumption. Because of the boom in exports, the city of Michoacán now has lower emigration rates, improved roads and infrastructure, decreased poverty and marginalization rates, more than 78,000 permanent jobs created, and better conditions for social development.

Luque, his team, and the organization’s partners foresee that the growth will only get bigger. 

“As we challenge ourselves to grow, the positive impact in our industry and in our country is felt not only in us meeting the appetite for this healthy and nutritious fruit, but also in the economic output we bring to the table,” Luque says.

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