Karen Nardozza and Todd Linsky Tout Dominican Republic Avocados
DOMINICAN REPUBLIC - Avocados are coveted within our industry and for good reason. An absolute score with consumers, these fruits promise higher ring at retail and add a must-have quality to every foodservice menu. How then do we as an industry work to maintain a viable avocado supply?
Karen Nardozza, CEO of Moxxy Marketing, and Todd Linsky, Principal and Owner of Todd Linsky Consulting, have taken a boots-to-the-ground approach this past week, visiting with Dominican Republic avocado growers at the invitation of the International Executive Service Corps (IESC). The purpose of their visit was to develop a better understanding of challenges facing the growers, the nuances of the avocado market, and create export opportunities for Tropical Avocados from the Dominican Republic to the United States. Karen and Todd’s mission? Create a winning strategy for their partners, long term commerce goals, enhance economic development and provide a viable alternative to American consumers.
“We had the good fortune to be able to tour packing facilities through the countryside,” Karen shared with me, detailing how both she and Todd spent their time evaluating and talking to multiple growers to better understand their operations, varieties, worker welfare, food safety, sustainability initiatives, and growth opportunities. “We were quite impressed with the activities around infrastructure improvements at every facility. We were able to see the enhanced utilization of modern technology and packaging methodology. There’s an inescapable level of excitement when a grower shares his and her vision for the future.”
The varieties of avocados grown in this region, both reported, looked luscious and fresh. Not intended to be an alternative to currently available fruit, Tropical Avocados from the Dominican Republic enhance the category and grow its potential.
“Being able to try—first-hand—tree-ripened Tropical Avocados from the Dominican Republic was one of the most impactful experiences of our trip. The outstanding flavor, texture profile and the usability of this fruit exponentially grew our enthusiasm for the project and the people growing these unique avocados,” Todd explained. “I can see why this is a highly coveted commodity. These varieties are different from what most consumers have come to expect from an avocado. They stay green, don’t oxidize after being cut or sliced, and they’re really great served cold!”
As they talked with multiple growers, several points of differentiation cropped up, particularly their attention to adhering to food safety guidelines. “The issue of food safety was brought to our attention proactively by every grower-shipper we met, with a sense of pride and accomplishment for Food Safety Modernization Act (FSMA) readiness,” Karen remarked. Worker welfare is also of utmost importance, as many growers are from small family farms. Meals are prepared daily in a communal style that allows everyone to participate. The farmers see proof that they are creating better lives for their families and communities. You can’t help but get caught up in the joy these emerging entrepreneurs display.
Todd went on to share, “On top of food safety, the Dominicans are putting an emphasis on better understanding and development of new varietal opportunities, as well as working on increased organic production for this emerging category.” Areas of importance include proper organic handling facilities, actively pursuing alternative energy sources, recycling, and creating meaningful sustainability practices.
“In leaving the Dominican Republic, it was wonderful to reflect on just how prepared these producers are becoming for the growth opportunities ahead,” Todd explained. “The industry here is committed and positioned for great things. I look forward to educating wholesalers and retailers about my time in the country, I can only hope my words will do it justice!”
Intrigued by the chance to learn more about Tropical Avocados from the Dominican Republic? Reach out to Karen or Todd for more information and Mark booth #4471 at PMA Fresh Summit as one to visit if you're interested in understanding how they’re filling in supply gaps and boosting retail programs in the United States.