Retail practices for avocado
Improved retail practices can lead to a higher quality of avocados and improve customer satisfaction. For the highest freshness on the shelf and to minimize waste, 'first-in first-out' management may be the best strategy. However, quality inspections may lead to other decisions. The staff must be well trained in handling the different types of fresh produce. They must realize that fresh products are very susceptible to handling damage and to unfavourable conditions such as too low or too high temperature.
Good quality avocados in the store
Attention points in the store
A hand-sized avocado. Photo by Gleb Usovich/Shutterstock.com
Fresh avocados must comply with specific requirements to be allowed on the market. The produce must comply with legislation to avoid health and environmental risks, and meet quality standards. Quality standards include regulations such as minimum fruit quality, size, packaging and labelling requirements. Avocados must meet at least with the general minimum requirements, such as being intact and free from rotting. Additional requirements apply to Class Extra, Class I and Class II. The main segment for avocados (on the European market) is Class I.
Different avocado varieties in the supermarket. Photo by Dragana Gordic/Shutterstock.com
There are different varieties of avocado. Each variety has its own characteristics of colour, flavour and texture. The availability of a variety can vary throughout the year, depending on the growing season in the country of origin. Hass (and Hass sub-varieties), Fuerte, Ettinger and Pinkerton are among the most popular varieties. Organic avocados are required by a small but growing niche market.
Quality inspection in the supermarket. Photo by ALPA PROD/Shutterstock.com
Quality inspectionTo be sure of a good quality product to display, quality inspection upon receipt is very important. Avocados may have disorders that may have occurred during previous parts of the supply chain. Improper post-harvest handling may have caused mechanical damages, while wrong temperature and time management may have caused ripening problems
Colour differences are not the main indicators of ripeness of avocados. Photo by Anna Lurye/Shutterstock.com
RipenessMain indicator of ripeness is the firmness of the avocado. In the store people will generally assess this by using their hand and gently press. When possible, this behaviour should be avoided as this extra and uncontrolled handling will damage the fruit and fastened the ripening process. The color of the skin is not always well correlated with the ripeness. In Europe, avocados are commonly sold as unripe, triggered with ethylene or at ready to eat stage.
Display in a supermarket in Malaysia with various packages of imported avocados.Photo by Zety Akhzar/Shutterstock.com
Avocado can be displayed at room temperature, but to slow down ripening a colder temperature is preferred. During non-business hours, products can be taken from the shelf and placed in a colder room.
Avocado with extra protection against bruising via a foam mesh. Photo by Photour.1904/Shutterstock.com
Handling and qualityAvocados, including the firm ones, can be bruised if handled too roughly. Do not stack avocados on top of each other, especially ripe soft avocados are very easily damaged. Never empty a box by holding it upside down. Instead, take avocados one by one by hand. To prevent disappointed customers, remove overripe, shrivelled, damaged and diseased product from the display.