Picking peppers for profit

12/03/2012 04:04:00 PM
Thomas Burfield

The best bell pepper values usually are found around February and March, when Mexico’s production is at a peak, he says.

Consumers searching for something completely different may look for chocolate, purple or white bell peppers, says Robert Schueller, director of public relations for Melissa’s World Variety Produce Inc., Los Angeles.

Some shoppers may ask for them around the holidays, he says, but the market is small and focused on high-end, major-market retailers.

Retailers can use cross-merchandising to increase pepper sales, says Dionysios Christou, vice president of marketing for Del Monte Fresh Produce, Coral, Gables, Fla.

“Pairing peppers with fajita or shish kabob ingredients will encourage consumers to purchase and try pepper varieties,” he says. “Placing (point-of-sale) material and recipe cards in the produce department will also increase pepper sales and consumer knowledge.”

Chili choices

In the chili pepper category, the anaheim, pablano and jalapeno varieties are big at Brookshire Food Stores, Durham says.

Stores usually merchandise all chili peppers together, usually on a 6- to 8-foot table. Size of the display varies with the size of each store’s Hispanic customer base, he says. Stores that serve only a small number of Hispanic shoppers may have only a few small baskets of chili peppers.

The chain limits advertising on most chili peppers to holidays such as Cinco de Mayo. But jalapenos are an exception. They’re on ad once or twice a month.

In stores with a large Hispanic customer base, it’s important to have a good-size display of fresh chili peppers to compete with Hispanic retailers, he says.

“If you don’t have a good spread, you’ll end up with more shrink because no one will notice them,” he says.

Some Brookshire stores also offer half a dozen varieties of packaged dried chili peppers.

The chain used to offer bulk dried peppers, but the packaged peppers seem to sell better, Durham says.

Wide selection

Angeli Foods Co. offers red, yellow, jalapeno and poblano chili peppers on a regular basis and some others, such as the yellow banana chili, seasonally, Simonson says.

He displays chili peppers in baskets about 8 inches wide and 1 foot deep, and they’re merchandised above the bell peppers. They’re seldom featured on ad.

Simonson also merchandises four or five kinds of dried chili peppers on hooks on a display rack.


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