Picking peppers for profit - The Packer

Picking peppers for profit

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

Bell peppers and chili peppers both are produce favorites with fan bases that are expanding every year.

Bell peppers rank as the fifth most popular vegetable, according to The Packer’s Fresh Trends 2012. And they ranked as the No. 3 item that consumers buy now that they did not buy previously.

produce retailer peppers Pamela RiemenschneiderFresh Trends says 67% of shoppers purchased bell peppers and more than 25% purchased chilies within the past 12 months. The likelihood of a specialty pepper purchase increased 10 percentage points over the previous year.

Colors abound

Most retailers offer green, red, yellow and orange bell peppers, but the lower-priced green variety generally is the best-seller.

Green and colored varieties both are popular at the more than 150 Tyler, Texas-based Brookshire Food Stores locations, says Keith Durham, category manager of fresh.

Green peppers are consistent sellers, but many shoppers prefer the perfect-looking colored ones that are grown in hothouses.

Brookshire sells packaged baby green and colored peppers, but those sales pale in comparison with bulk.

The chain features bell peppers on ad once or twice a month, with green ones priced at 2 for $1 compared with a regular price of 99 cents each. Colored bell peppers typically are priced at 10 for $10 on sale, compared with 3 for $4 regularly.

When they’re on ad, Durham merchandises peppers on end caps. Otherwise, they’re allotted 2 or 3 feet on a continental rack.

Durham says he often displays green and colored bell peppers together, even though they have different price points. He sometimes promotes peppers with yellow onions, cucumbers and squash.

Four-packs popular

A trend toward four-packs is growing at Angeli Foods Co., a group of three stores based in Iron River, Mich., says Gary Simonson, produce manager for one location.

The company sells bulk peppers and four-packs of colored peppers — usually two red, one yellow and one orange.

“The four-packs have really taken off,” Simonson says.

A year ago, 75% of Angeli’s pepper sales were bulk. Now they’re split about 50-50 between bulk and packaged product.

There’s less shrink with packaged peppers than with bulk, he says. They’re also easier to stack without damaging the product.

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