Fresh avocados were not always the nutrition darling they are today. In the early 2000s, Americans were fat-phobic, avoiding foods like nuts, olive oil, and fresh avocados for fear of the health repercussions. Further, they were unfamiliar with the fruit. Many did not grow up eating fresh avocados and with a higher price point than other more familiar fresh produce, few were able to see the value of including it in their diets.
In order to change consumer perceptions, the Hass Avocado Board (HAB) needed to convince the people Americans trust most for food and nutrition advice – credentialed health professionals, including registered dietitians and physicians. Consumers go to them for evidence-based recommendations, not pseudo-scientific dogma, so Padilla and its FoodMinds division devised a strategy to demonstrate fresh avocados’ beneficial impact on human health, while emphasizing the fruit’s value as part of a healthy, balanced diet.
Under the auspices of the U.S. Department of Agriculture, we established the HAB Nutrition Research Program to investigate the health impacts of fresh avocado consumption. We collaborated with esteemed research institutions across the country to develop a program that meets rigorous criteria for research transparency and scientific integrity. All research is conducted independently by scientists who abide by the highest standards of scientific inquiry, methods, analysis and ethics to guide research and design, including generations of rigorous hypotheses, the submission and publication of manuscripts to peer-reviewed journals, and the dissemination of research findings at professional meetings.
Armed with new evidence, we created the Love One Today® (LOT) campaign – a science-based food and wellness education program focused on the health benefits and nutritional attributes of fresh avocado consumption. LOT supports the global avocado industry goal to build demand for fresh avocados by sharing research program outcomes, avocado usage ideas, and recipes with health professionals and consumers.
The LOT program has helped boost U.S. avocado consumption to a record 2.4 billion pounds in 2018 – over four times the amount in 2000. In addition, health professionals and key opinion leaders have increased their recommendations for avocados – with 97% recommending avocados frequently for increased intake of fruits and vegetables in 2018, 46% higher than in 2013.