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Completed project

Supply chain quality improvement – retailer point of purchase improvements (AV15011)

Key research provider: Applied Horticultural Research
Publication date: Wednesday, August 8, 2018

What was it all about? 

Beginning mid-2016 and finishing during 2018, this investment worked closely with retailers to deliver education, training programs and consumer-facing tools to reduce the percentage of damaged avocados available on shelves – helping boost the consumer experience with the fruit at the retail level.

A key achievement of the project was the development of a high-impact, low-cost display and merchandising system for Hass avocados, involving…

  • Safely and correctly sorting avocados into ripe and unripe categories
  • Ensuring ripe fruit is consistently available
  • Using green and black coloured foam pads for display of avocados, with the colours used to separate the fruit into ripeness categories
  • Using header cards to identify stages of ripeness within the display, clearly indicating avocados to “Buy now, eat now” or to “Buy now, eat later”.

The benefits of the system were demonstrated through trials in retail stores, and included…

  • A reduction in squeezing by retail customers – on average, a 41 per cent reduction in the number of avocados squeezed per fruit purchased

  • A reduction in bruising, with a 59 per cent reduction in bruise severity observed

  • Increased sales, with a 30 per cent increase in average number of fruit purchased per customer, and a 43 per cent reduction in the number of customers who handled avocados without making a purchase.

The researchers report that the trials successfully demonstrated that it is possible to reduce damage at retail from as much as 25 per cent to 10 per cent, primarily due to reductions in customer squeezing. The trials also indicated that the displays are easy to setup, with a number of remote stores putting into place the displays without direct assistance from the project team. Maintenance of the sorted displays was also found to be simple, with consumers observed to almost always return unpurchased fruit to the correct side of the display.

The project team note that communication and extension activities have resulted in more than 150 stores implementing the system by May 2018. Further uptake is also likely, as the benefits continue to be promoted through industry channels.

Another core component of the project was the development and implementation of an online avocado training program for store-level staff. Developed in consultation with retailers, the 30-minute program involves videos covering customer interactions, ordering, receiving and storage, ripening and display and merchandising.

The other major project output was the online avocado training program for store-level staff, which was developed in consultation with retailers and will remain available into the future. The program, which can be completed in 30 minutes, incorporates five videos covering customers; ordering, receival and storage; ripening; plus display and merchandising of avocados. Each section of the training also has a brief quiz to reinforce key points, and successful completion of the program enables participants to download an industry-endorsed certificate of recognition.

Back-room charts that reinforce key messages from the videos were also developed and distributed during the course of the project.

The project’s work was part of a larger supply chain quality-improvement program also including Supply chain quality improvement – cool chain best practice guidelines (AV15010) and Supply chain quality improvement – technologies and practices to reduce bruising (AV15009).

Related levy funds


Funding statement:
This project was a strategic levy investment in the Hort Innovation Avocado Fund

Copyright © Horticulture Innovation Australia Limited 2018. The Final Research Report (in part or as whole) cannot be reproduced, published, communicated or adapted without the prior written consent of Hort Innovation (except as may be permitted under the Copyright Act 1968 (Cth)).