Avocados are delicious, wholesome, popular and used easily in any daypart or menu category. They’re colorful garnishes on omelets, creamy when smeared over toasted bread, the essential ingredient in one of Mexico’s most popular dips and even the velvety-fatty backbone of vegan desserts.
Yet for all their virtues, these green and yellow gems are easily bruised, ripen unpredictably and are labor-intensive to prep. In addition, seasonal supply shifts also can make them pricey—as much as $90 per case amid shortages.
So how do chefs keep them on the menu while meeting food and labor cost goals?
One alternative is WHOLLY® AVOCADO products. Created by Fresherized Foods, WHOLLY® AVOCADO products are made from avocados picked at peak ripeness, pitted and hand-scooped, sealed under high-pressure and packaged in halves or in chunky, diced or pulp consistencies. These allow chefs to cut time, not corners, and use a preservative-free and 100% Hass avocado ingredient. Each package contains only the fruit—meaning 100% yield—and its contents are shelf-stable for 28 days under refrigeration.
“Anything an operator can do to minimize the need for skilled labor in this market will be a big help,” Moeller says. “Sure, you may pay more for this than you would if you bought whole avocados. But with this, you get the labor tradeoff. I think that’s incredibly important right now since hiring anybody to work is a real challenge.”
A veteran operator, Moeller says food safety isn’t always top of mind when cooks prep avocados. Cooks may not wash them before placing them whole on a clean cutting board, where the fruit is eventually diced and sliced. And while not a complex task, pitting avocados, without bruising or cutting them, is time consuming. Why not, he says, open a package of peeled and pitted avocados and eliminate some touch points?
“A cook isn’t thinking about food safety when an avocado pit gets stuck on his knife, and he beats it on the edge of a garbage can to get it off,” Moeller says, adding that such an example is worst-case. “But if all you have to do is open a package—and it doesn’t take training to do that—and then start dicing avocados, just think how much quicker the job gets done.”
“A case of fresh avocados takes up a lot of space, so I can imagine that a case of avocados that are already prepped and prepackaged would take up about a quarter of the amount of a case of whole fruit,” Rosado says. “The cost of restaurant square footage is getting so high that kitchens are getting smaller and smaller. So every little bit of space counts back there.”
Rosado, who’s opened and operated a variety of Latin American and Mexican-inspired restaurants, says the labor savings gained through ready-to-use product is potentially significant.
“In some of those restaurants, there will be a prep cook spending almost half of his day prepping avocados for guacamole or other dishes,” Rosado says. “So when you stop all of that, now you’re reaching into the cooler, grabbing a pouch, opening it up, scooping out only what you need and moving forward.
“Imagine the astronomical amounts of labor you’re saving in just one day, and then multiply that by 365 days. That’s a big chunk of change, money you can put back into the operation or into the owner’s pocket.”
Processed at peak ripeness
Since the fruit used in WHOLLY® AVOCADO products is picked and processed at peak ripeness, the unpredictability of avocado ripeness at the restaurant is eliminated. Moeller says that this benefit, as well as year-round availability, are impossible to overlook.
“Every chef deals with inconsistency in ripeness and size and color, and that’s frustrating,” he says. “You take that away—wow, that’s great! It sure makes ordering easier.”
Variety of uses, however, piqued both consultants’ interest in the product. Whether used in quick-casual or casual operations, avocados fit well into these dishes and many more:
Burritos, tacos, chilaquiles and more
Hot and cold sandwich spreads
Garnishes for grilled steaks, chicken and fish
Rosado describes the potential for WHOLLY® AVOCADO products as “almost endless” given modern chefs’ love of fusion and fresh ingredients.
“The development of food science and products like this over the past 10 years is amazing,” he says. “Things like this address the pain points we have to manage and makes our lives easier. When you can do that and help us make money, it’s hard to refute its value. It’s a win-win for us.”
To learn more about the time and labor-saving benefits of MegaMex Foodservice’s WHOLLY® AVOCADO products, visit our ideas page by clicking here.