Sweet sales - The Packer

Sweet sales

10/04/2011 11:28:00 AM
Pamela Riemenschneider

Education, promotion and innovation are at the core of increasing pineapple sales.

And darketers will help with aggressive promotional campaigns this fall.


“During Thanksgiving, Dole will be offering nutritional point-of-sale material about the digestive benefits of eating fresh pines, such as touting that bromaline aids in digestion,” says Bil Goldfield, communications manager for Dole Fresh Fruit, Westlake Village, Calif. “Additionally, we will be working with our contracted retail accounts to showcase in-store demonstrations to increase the user-friendliness of pineapples and its usages.”

Goldfield says that the user-friendliness of pineapples cannot be overemphasized.

“We expect steady category growth for fresh pineapple in 2012 and beyond. One of the most effective tools we found in helping drive the increase in consumer demand is education on usage,” Goldfield says. “Dole suggests retailers capitalize by utilizing product demos, recipes and nutritional education.”

Product innovation also has been paramount to increasing pineapple consumption, says Dennis Christou, vice president of marketing for Coral Gables, Fla.-based Del Monte Fresh Produce NA.

“The pineapple category has grown tremendously over the last 10 years, and fresh-cut pineapple is a huge part of the category,” Christou says.

While not mentioning specifics about any new products, Christou says Del Monte has a full innovation pipeline. He says the company offers new items to conventional and nonconventional retailers, with a special focus on the convenience store, to meet consumer and trade needs.

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“Our Del Monte Gold  extra-sweet pineapple, precut spears, rings and chunks open the door for other fresh-cut selections such as blends and trays,” Christou says. “This provides retailers with fresh new items for their shelves, keeps consumer interest in the category high and drives sales.”

To grow the category in the future, Coral Gables-based Banacol Marketing Corp. encourages its retail customers to offer consistent pricing and a product mix that includes fresh-cut and whole pineapples.

“Some people promote pineapples three or four times a year. They may put them on sale for around $2 and then put them back up at $5 after the promotion. Often that strategy can kill sales,” says Bill Sheridan, vice president of sales and marketing for Banacol.

Instead, Sheridan counsels retailers to adopt an everyday low price and provide consistent quality to increase their overall pineapple volume. He also encourages retailers to offer fresh-cut pineapple items, so consumers have the option of selecting cored or uncored fruit.

He says educating consumers about the uses and nutritional benefits of pineapple also will help boost sales.

Toward that end, Sheridan says, “We try to do in-store promotions as much as we can.”


Nutrition and the classroom

Emphasizing the nutritional benefits of pineapples and other fruits is one spear of a large-scale promotional campaign that Del Monte recently launched – with the school classroom in mind.

“Because of the success of the Teacher Monday promotion last year, we’ve recently launched our second annual Teacher Monday: Cash for Classrooms promotion,” Christou says. “Our promotion provides the opportunity for 60 schools throughout the country to win $1,000 ($750 in cash for school supplies and $250 in coupons for fresh fruits and vegetables) for their classrooms .”

Christou says retailers are encouraged to participate in the Teacher Monday promotion through point-of-sale material, which is currently available. Del Monte, via an in-store display contest, will also offer 10 retailers the opportunity to award a salad bar to a selected group of schools.

Del Monte’s promotion attracted responses by the millions – yes, millions – last year from consumers interested in helping their schools.

“Last year, our Teacher Monday Cash for Classrooms promotion gathered more than 1 million votes, 30 million on-pack stickers, tags and labels, and over 120 consumer media outlets delivering 39 million viewers,” Christou says. “The promotion provides teachers the opportunity to educate their students on healthier eating habits and provides them with much needed cash for school supplies.”


Building a better pineapple

In addition to education on user-friendliness and developing new fresh-cut SKUs, innovations at the production end have helped sweeten the pineapple industry’s sales in recent years, says Elizabeth Inglese, commodity manager for pineapples, Calavo Growers Inc., Santa Paula, Calif.

“The introduction of the MD2 variety is one reason for increased sales,” Inglese says. “The fruit is ready to eat at harvest, and it contains an amazing amount of sugar.”

Inglese says the continued diversification of the U.S. population is also contributing to increased sales of pineapple, which is a staple of some cultures’ diets.

Retailers should expect a promotable volume of pineapples this fall, Inglese said.

“I don’t think anyone anticipated the gap in supply this summer, but our Costa Rican grower says the volume is starting to come back,” Inglese says. “I’m not saying we’re back to peak production, but supplies should be adequate to meet demand now through December.”

Other marketers agreed production is on the rebound and that the quality is good.

“Pineapple volume is rebounding strongly from an early and disruptive NDF (naturally differentiated flowering) season, and we expect supplies to remain constant for the fall and able to meet demand,” Dole’s Goldfield says.

The production uptick is welcome news as retailers look to run pineapple promotions for the holiday season.

“Production is returning to normal,” Christou says of Del Monte’s fruit. “We are anticipating ample volume to meet holiday needs.”

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