Avocados from Mexico (AFM) is owned by the Mexican Hass Avocados Importers Association, which is a consortium of avocado growers and packers based in the Mexican state of Michoacán. The consortium was formed in the late 1980s to collectively promote and advertise Mexican avocados in the United States market under the Avocados from Mexico brand name.
The Mexican Hass Avocados Importers Association is a non-profit organization that represents over 30,000 avocado growers across Michoacán, Mexico. AFM is not owned by any single company, but rather governed by a board of directors comprised of representatives from the largest avocado packers and exporters in Mexico.
Some of the major exporters and packers that are part of the AFM consortium include:
- Mission Produce
- Del Monte Fresh Produce
- Salvador Garcia Packing
- Cabañas Packing
- Packco Avocados
So in summary, Avocados from Mexico is owned and governed collectively by the Mexican Hass Avocados Importers Association, which represents the interests of thousands of avocado growers, packers, and exporters in the Michoacán region of Mexico.
History of Avocados from Mexico
The origins of the Avocados from Mexico brand can be traced back to the late 1980s when Mexico first gained access to export avocados into the United States. Before 1989, the US banned all imports of Mexican avocados due to concerns over pests and diseases that could damage California’s avocado crops.
But in the late 1980s, after years of negotiations, the US lifted the ban and allowed Mexican avocados into certain regions of the US starting in 1989. Initially, exports were only permitted between November to February and into 19 northeastern states.
To capitalize on this new export opportunity, several leading avocado growers and packers from Michoacán came together in 1994 to form the Mexican Hass Avocado Importers Association. They chose the name “Avocados from Mexico” for brand recognition in the US market.
The purpose of creating this consortium was to collectively advertise, promote and distribute Mexican avocados under a single unified brand in the US. By banding together, the growers could pool their resources and maximize the impact of their marketing efforts compared to promoting their individual brands.
Initially AFM’s efforts focused on increasing awareness and consumption of avocados in the northeastern US among consumers unfamiliar with the fruit. Their promotional campaigns highlighted the health benefits, taste, and versatility of avocados in cooking.
Over the 1990s as demand grew, restrictions on Mexican avocado imports were gradually relaxed allowing entry nationwide year-round. With this expanded access, the Avocados from Mexico brand continued growing both its distribution footprint and consumer recognition in the US.
By the early 2000s, aided by its multimillion dollar promotional campaigns, Avocados from Mexico became one of the most recognized and consumed produce brands in the US. And by 2015, Mexico’s share of the US avocado market surpassed 90%, cementing AFM’s dominance in the industry.
- 1989 – US lifts ban allowing initial imports of Mexican avocados
- 1994 – Mexican Hass Avocado Importers Association formed to create Avocados from Mexico brand
- 1990s – Brand awareness built through promotional campaigns in northeast US
- Early 2000s – Distribution and recognition expands nationwide
- 2015 – Mexico accounts for over 90% of US avocado imports
The Avocados from Mexico brand is managed and controlled by the Mexican Hass Avocados Importers Association (MHAIA). This non-profit association consists of over 30,000 avocado growers across the state of Michoacán as well as the major packers and distributors of the fruit.
The MHAIA is governed by a 12-member Board of Directors elected from its membership. The Board consists of representatives from the largest avocado exporting and packing companies in Mexico. It meets several times a year to direct the strategy and activities of the Avocados from Mexico brand.
Day-to-day operations and marketing of the AFM brand are handled by the MHAIA’s Marketing Committee. This consists of appointed representatives from exporting companies who make recommendations to the Board on promotional strategies and budgets in the US market.
The Marketing Committee works in partnership with Acosta, their US-based marketing and sales agency. Acosta manages activities such as digital marketing, social media, events, and public relations for the brand in the US. However, control and oversight remains firmly with the MHAIA.
The MHAIA and Acosta jointly run the Avocados from Mexico Shopping Service Center in Dallas, Texas which takes orders from major US grocery store chains and distributes to the packers for fulfillment.
So while handled collaboratively, the Avocados from Mexico brand ultimately remains owned, guided, and controlled by the Mexican Hass Avocados Importers Association representing thousands of growers and packers from the Michoacán region.
Organizational Structure Summary:
- Mexican Hass Avocados Importers Association (non-profit consortium)
- Governed by 12-member Board of Directors
- Board oversees Marketing Committee that directs promotional activities
- Works with US marketing partner, Acosta
- Jointly operate Service Center managing US distribution
Major Companies Involved
There are a number of major Mexican companies that are actively involved in the Avocados from Mexico brand through their membership in the Mexican Hass Avocados Importers Association.
Some of the top exporters and packers from Mexico that helped found and continue to support Avocados from Mexico include:
One of the largest avocado distributors in the world based in Oxnard, California with packing facilities in Mexico. Exports over 500 million pounds of avocados annually including 35% under the Avocados from Mexico brand.
Del Monte Fresh Produce
A leading marketer and distributor of fresh fruits and vegetables including avocados. Based in Florida with packing operations in both Mexico and the US. Major exporter to the US under Avocados from Mexico.
Salvador Garcia Packing
Family owned company based in Michoacán, Mexico and one of the original founders of the Avocados from Mexico consortium. Exports around 60 million pounds annually to the US.
A major Mexican owned grower, packer, shipper and exporter of avocados from Michoacán to the US market under the Avocados from Mexico brand.
Subsidiary of Santa Clara Produce, one of the early members of the Avocados from Mexico consortium exporting since 1995 under the brand.
There are also over two dozen other medium and smaller sized packers and growers that helped establish and remain involved with the Avocados from Mexico program.
While independently owned firms, their collective efforts promoting the single unified brand has been key to the Mexican avocado industry’s phenomenal success in penetrating the US market.
As a non-profit consortium representing dozens of independent avocado packing and exporting firms, Avocados from Mexico (AFM) does not have its own consolidated financial reports.
However, AFM’s activities are funded through promotional assessments charged to its members based on the volume of avocados exported under the AFM brand. These assessments represent a percentage of sales and are used to pay for marketing, advertising and distributions expenses.
AFM’s annual marketing budget has grown substantially over the years as the brand’s revenues have increased. In 2005, AFM spent $2.6 million on promotions. By 2015, the annual marketing budget had ballooned to over $50 million to meet growing demand.
That marketing investment has proven highly successful, with AFM avocado sales and distribution expanding dramatically over the past two decades. AFM has gone from selling $260 million worth of avocados in the US in 2004 to over $2.2 billion by 2022.
Some key Avocados from Mexico financial metrics:
- 2022 US sales: $2.2 billion
- 2022 volume sold: over 2 billion pounds
- 2022 marketing budget: ~$70 million
- 2022 per capita consumption: 7 pounds per person
- 10 year sales CAGR: 13%
So while not having its own P&L, the Avocados from Mexico brand has driven exponential growth in Mexican avocado exports and dramatically expanded marketing expenditures funded by its consortium members.
Given its high profile and dominant market share in the avocado industry, Avocados from Mexico (AFM) has been involved in some antitrust lawsuits over the years. However, so far these have not resulted in any major legal impacts or changes to AFM’s structure or activities. Some key legal cases have included:
In 1996, amidst rapid growth in Mexican avocado imports, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) launched an investigation into AFM over allegations of anti-competitive practices. Specifically, critics argued that AFM’s coordinated promotional activities on behalf of thousands of Mexican growers amounted to collusion and price fixing.
However, in 1997 the FTC dropped the investigation without any charges, stating that the coordinated efforts of Mexican avocado growers did not violate US antitrust laws.
In 2008, a dissident group called WHOAvocado (World Hass Organization) filed a lawsuit against AFM alleging improper use of promotional checkoff funds collected from Mexican avocado growers.
But in 2011, the case was dismissed by the judge who ruled that under the Hass Avocado Promotion, Research and Information Act, AFM’s assessments and expenditures were legal and appropriate.
In 2018, a US avocado grower filed a petition with the USDA asking for the creation of a promotional program for domestic avocados to counter AFM’s activities. This was rejected by the USDA in 2019 which ruled AFM’s promotional activities were not harming domestic growers.
So while facing some opposition given its market power, Avocados from Mexico has prevailed in these lawsuits with its coordinated activities deemed legal and appropriate based on precedents for agricultural checkoff programs.
Impact on US and Global Markets
The establishment and marketing activities of Avocados from Mexico has had a tremendous influence on both the US and global avocado markets over the past three decades. Some of its key impacts include:
- Dramatically increased US consumption of avocados from 1.1 billion pounds in 2000 to over 2.6 billion pounds in 2018.
- Mexico’s share of US avocado imports rose from less than 10% in the 1990s to around 90% currently.
- Per capita avocado consumption in the US quadrupled from around 1.5 lbs in the 1990s to over 7 lbs recently.
- AFM promotions increased the popularity and demand for avocados as an ingredient in restaurants.
- AFM’s success spurred other major production centers like Peru, Chile and Colombia to form similar promotional groups.
- Global production and consumption of avocados expanded rapidly due partly to Mexico’s model.
By professionalizing its marketing and distribution under a unified brand, AFM enabled the Mexican avocado industry to rapidly gain dominance in the large US market.
Not only did this boost Mexico’s avocado exports and reduce US dependence on California production, but it helped make avocados mainstream through changing US consumer perceptions and demand.
The AFM model has been copied worldwide accelerating investment and productivity growth in the global avocado industry. Overall, AFM’s establishment fundamentally reshaped the avocado market over the past 30 years.
In summary, Avocados from Mexico was established in the mid-1990s as a unified brand and promotional program by the Mexican Hass Avocados Importers Association. This consortium consists of over 30,000 avocado growers and packers principally located in the state of Michoacán.
While independently owned firms, they collectively manage the AFM brand through an elected board of directors and marketing committee. Their coordinated efforts have allowed Mexico to completely dominate the US avocado import market since the 1990s.
AFM’s massive promotional expenditures and distribution footprint has made avocados mainstream in the US and driven exponential market growth. This model has reshaped the global industry and been copied by other producing countries.
So while not a single entity, Avocados from Mexico is strategically guided by Mexico’s major avocado exporters through the MHAIA to jointly promote and distribute their crops under a shared brand that resonates with consumers worldwide.