Don’t be afraid to go big with garlic.
According to The Packer’s Fresh Trends 2012, garlic was the third fastest-growing item in the produce department, behind avocados and pineapples, with a likelihood of purchase up 11% over the previous year.
click image to zoomPamela RiemenschneiderKick in the plethora of value-added options for time-crunched consumers, the growth of ethnic cuisine and at-home gourmets, and what once was a brief stop in onions and potatoes now commands its own merchandising strategy.
Garlic’s versatility and ease in merchandising makes it an attractive option for cross-promotions. Jody Okamoto, regional merchandiser for Los Angeles-based Melissa’s World Variety Produce, says he likes to give consumers suggestions for holiday meal entertaining, such as pairing salsa ingredients together in a display.
“Going into the holiday season, retailers should cross-merchandise and sell garlic with items from different departments,” he says. “Advertise pasta from the grocery department, ground beef from the meat department, (and) hot and fresh French bread from the bakery along with fresh tomatoes and fresh garlic from produce — and maybe throw in a packaged garden salad — and you’ve just created a meal including four different departments.”
Louis Hymel, director of purchasing and marketing for Spice World Inc., Orlando, Fla., says Spice World offers a variety of value packs and custom displays for holiday cross-promotions. The holidays are a great time to cross-merchandise and drive incremental sales, he says.
“Garlic bread and garlic dips, along with salsa and guacamole, will not only increase garlic sales but incremental sales for other ingredients, too,” he says.
The holidays have most consumers thinking about home-cooked meals, many of which feature garlic, says Patsy Ross, marketing director for Gilroy, Calif.-based Christopher Ranch.
“Make a little room for both fresh garlic bulbs and peeled garlic bags in the produce department,” she says. “Garlic is an essential ingredient for holiday cooking.”
Consumers may have the hankering for home-cooked meals during the holidays, but they’re also keyed in to value-added items like peeled whole cloves and ready-to-use minced garlic.
“I think the trend toward easy-to-use bagged salads has spilled over into all different produce items,” Ross says. “So it only makes sense that some consumers want their garlic chopped up and ready to use where others want the tried and traditional fresh garlic in bulb format.”
Ross says she sees more success with value-added items in areas with denser populations.
Spice World added another product to its value-added lineup this fall. After a successful introduction of its Squeeze Garlic last year, the company added Organic Squeeze garlic and Squeeze Garlic in Olive Oil.
Squeeze garlic is quick, convenient and has no waste, Hymel says.
“Consumers are always using more garlic and the easier it is to use and store the more they will use,” he says.
Garlic’s dark side
click image to zoomPamela RiemenschneiderBlack garlic lends a sweet, mellow flavor to a variety of dishes. Introduced in the specialty aisle just a few years ago, black garlic appeals to consumers looking for an exotic new experience. Black garlic is produced through a fermentation process that creates smooth, spreadable cloves without the pungency of fresh.
“Spread black garlic on a piece of toasted baguette and you’ve just created an exciting appetizer with unbelievable taste,” Okamoto says. “Consumers are amazed at the sweet, licorice flavor.”
Spice World recently added black garlic to its lineup as well, Hymel says.
“Black garlic can be enjoyed any time as a snack and is often consumed for its proclaimed health benefits,” he says. “Because of its unique flavor profiles and texture it is used in many recipes.”
The age-old debate
Depending on your clientele, variety and size being promoted, marketers say they see arguments for pricing by unit and by weight.
“I think some consumers have a perception that garlic is an expensive item when priced by the pound,” Ross says. “We have found if you price it by the each it has a more receptive price point.”
Melissa’s Okamoto says location also is a factor.
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“There is definitely a difference between the West Coast, Midwest and East Coast philosophies when it comes to merchandising,” he says. “Most of the conventional markets in the Midwest and East Coast sell their melons by the each, whereas the West Coast companies continue to sell them by the pound.”
Most stores Okamoto works with sell their fresh garlic by the each, he says.
“You do see most of them selling for three for 99 cents or two for $1,” he says. “This is a great marketing decision to try to encourage the customer to buy two or three cloves of fresh garlic instead of one.”