Packaging keys increased retail banana sales

03/15/2013 01:38:00 PM
Melissa Shipman

Bananas may be a staple produce item, but marketers say the category is not always that simple to promote.

Packaging remains a key component to marketing.

“We offer a club pack and see significant sales and value to the consumers there, but we also sell individual bananas for those consumers who maybe only have one or two people living at home. We want to offer a variety of purchases to our consumers,” said Bill Sheridan, executive vice president of sales for Banacol Marketing Corp., Coral Gables, Fla.

Coloring is also important, and stores often have the choice for a one- or two-color program.

“I personally prefer a two-color program because it gives the consumers some variety for their own preference, but it’s all about consistency,” Sheridan said.

“Whoever produces that good color consistently will see the most repeat sales, and that’s what we want.”

“In addition to social media, we use promotions driven through specific retailers, direct to consumers,” said Dennis Christou, vice president of marketing for Del Monte Fresh Produce, Coral Gables.

Banacol prefers to use promotions rather than run price specials.

“We try to stay away from using a retail price to promote. We just think it works better when we have some kind of promotion that features the benefits of bananas, such as nutritional content,” Sheridan said.

Organics Unlimited, San Diego, which supplies organic bananas to Chiquita Brands International, Charlotte., N.C., and other companies, participates in several promotional activities.

“We are wholesalers, so we don’t do too much with promotions, although we do participate in some display contests and we offer volunteer travel opportunities with our GROW program,” president Mayra Velazquez de Leon said.

The company also participates in events such as an AIDS walk, in which bananas are donated and given to participants along with information about the GROW banana program, which strives to give financial support to programs that help the lifestyles of farm workers and their families, Velazquez de Leon said.

Cross-promoting bananas with other produce items is a great way to increase sales, suppliers said.

“We sometimes use cross-promotions with other tropicals or cereals. In the past we’ve done cross-promotions with ice cream,” Sheridan said.

Other promotional techniques include demonstrations, which Coral Gables, Fla.-based Turbana Corp. has implemented to promote its plantain chips, director of marketing Marion Tabard said.

Turbana also has partnered with Marine Core Marathons and the Climb to the Top event, in which 1,500 participants climb 66 flights of stairs to the Top of the Rock Observation Deck in Rockefeller Center to benefit multiple sclerosis.

Supplies for this year are expected to be normal.

“Overall weather this year has been good and the banana category continues to perform much as expected,” said communications manager Bil Goldfield, Dole Fresh Fruit, Westlake, Calif.

Others agree.

“Unless a major weather event occurs, supply should be consistent with some increase in demand coming from Asia, Middle East, and Europe if the economy improves,” Christou said.

“The first half of the year can be difficult, but this has been a different year. We’ve been blessed with incredible weather and good production. Everyone was expecting a bad year but we believe it will be really stable,” Velazquez de Leon said.

“There was a lot of anticipation for a disruption in supplies in January, but we didn’t see that,” Sheridan said.



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