U.S. per-capita usage of fresh pineapple nearly quadrupled from 1.5 pounds in 1980 to 5.69 pounds in 2010, according to the USDA, and marketers hope to drive that figure even higher.
Pineapples represent one of Westlake Village, Calif.-based Dole Fresh Fruit Co.’s four primary operating divisions. In the most recent annual report on its website, Dole reported it had grown and sold more than 32 million boxes in 2010.
One of the ways Dole markets pineapples is by reaching its “consumer fanbase” through social media, said Bil Goldfield, communications manager.
Through social media, Dole plans to maintain a dialogue with consumers about its marketing campaigns and promotions throughout the year.
Social media also will be used to direct consumers to Dole’s retailer partners who host events or run promotions, Goldfield said.
This year, consumers also can expect to see Dole pineapples and other fresh fruit promoted through cross-promotions, movie tie-ins and summer events, he said.
Demos and promos
Demonstrations, cross-promotions and seasonal advertising are good ways to increase consumer purchases of pineapples, Goldfield said.
Demonstrations in particular are important in reaching consumers who might be reluctant to buy fresh pineapple.
“One of the biggest obstacles in purchasing is consumers’ unfamiliarity or (lack of) comfort in cutting and using pineapple,” Goldfield said.
One of the best ways to get them to try pineapple is to offer samples in the store. Offering recipes and demonstrating them in the store can be a “tremendous draw for consumers” who want ideas on how to use pineapples, Goldfield said.
Alan Dolezal, vice president of sales for Coral Gables, Fla.-based Turbana Corp., agrees demonstrations are vital.
Pineapples sell well at retail when they are priced low — around $1.99 or less each — but that might only stimulate one-time purchases.
“We’d like to see consumers get pineapples into their regular pattern of purchasing,” Dolezal said.
A typical retail price for pineapple is $3.99 to $4.99 each, depending on sizing.
Offering fresh-cut pineapple can increase sales.
Dolezal said there’s a trend toward more pineapple being sold at retail as fresh-cut products rather than as whole fruit.
Dolezal expects the fresh-cut trend to continue, especially because retailers often offer cored and cut pineapple at the same price they offer whole fruit.
World Variety Produce Inc., Los Angeles, which markets under the Melissa’s brand, promotes pineapples as part of its tropical line.
Melissa’s focuses on marketing South African Baby Pineapples and organic gold pineapples, though it can source conventional gold pineapples when needed, said Robert Schueller, director of public relations.
To increase sales of baby and organic varieties, Melissa’s emphasizes holiday periods and offers promotional pricing. South African Baby Pineapples and organic pineapples tend to sell best during spring and summer, but because they are available year-round, they can be promoted at any time, Schueller said.
The South African Baby Pineapple is a single-serve size, so it’s especially good for promoting in retail stores that cater to smaller households, Schueller said.
The baby pineapples often are cross-promoted with other tropical fruits or merchandised near displays of larger pineapples.
Chris Harris, director of sourcing category development, C.H. Robinson Worldwide, Eden Prairie, Minn., said cross-promotions are part of his company’s plans this year.
C.H. Robinson is gearing up for the Easter push and working with retailer customers on promotions. Its promotional programs are retailer-specific and might include promotional pricing or cross-merchandising.
One promotional opportunity this spring includes the use of a Tropicana Tropicals-brand gift bag as an incentive for consumers to purchase more pineapples, Harris said. Specific details have not yet been worked out, but promotions are expected to appear in time for Easter.
Tropicana Tropicals-brand pineapples are grown in Mexico. Robinson’s Rosemont Farms brand of pineapples are grown in Costa Rica.
Hazel Kelly, client promotions manager for Frieda’s Inc., Los Alamitos, Calif., said its Zululand Queen Baby Pineapples are good additions to tropical or standard pineapple displays. Frieda’s also recommends working with the floral department to incorporate baby pineapples and other specialty produce into floral centerpieces.
“(The centerpieces) can then be merchandised in produce or floral departments for the ‘wow’ factor,” Kelly said.
Pineapples from Mexico
Pineapple exporters in Mexico actively seek new distribution channels for their fruit, said Pablo Jiminez, marketing manager, Mexican Pineapple Exporters Association.
AMEP assists exporters by promoting Mexican pineapples via the internet, print media and in-store promotions, he said.
In addition to exporters, AMEP works with sales agents, distributors and marketers on promotions and educating consumers. Jiminez said AMEP develops market-specific strategies to promote pineapples grown by its exporter members.
Exporter members of AMEP are required to meet U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Food and Drug Administration requirements for safety and quality, Jiminez said. All have documented experience in sales to international markets.
While Mexico doesn’t compete with Costa Rica in terms of production volume, it can offer quality fruit, competitive pricing, safe production and effective distribution, Jiminez said.
AMEP’s website, www.pineapplesfrommexico.com, highlights freshness, consistent supply, food safety and traceability as some of the benefits for U.S. buyers sourcing pineapples from Mexico.