Some of the activities that merchandisers help plan with buyers include sampling of fruit and financial advertising support.
Retailers are sometimes supported with funds for training or helping some retail personnel make the trip to key produce trade shows such as the Produce Marketing Association expo, Moffitt said.
The group’s approach to marketing to foodservice operators focuses primarily on schools. About 95% of pears are sold through retail channels, but Moffitt said the bureau is working with school foodservice directors and chefs to put more pears on menus.
The group works with a company called the Cool School Cafe, which provides data and incentives on districts buying the most pears. The bureau also works with the U.S. Department of Agriculture on commodity purchases for schools and communicates with schools through mailings to school foodservice directors.
The bureau helped purchase a salad bar for a San Diego school in conjunction with the United Fresh expo there earlier this year.
Moffitt said the bureau tracks menu mentions of pears, and he said the use of pears is increasing.
“Desserts have always been popular, but we are seeing more salads now, which is the fastest-growing area of foodservice,” he said.
Looking to the future, Moffitt said he would like to see more use of fresh-cut pears in foodservice settings.
Other foodservice efforts include public relations efforts with the Culinary Institute of America.
One of the challenges in getting more pears on menus is finding reliable suppliers of conditioned pears for restaurant operators, Moffitt said.
“Most of the Sysco-type operations aren’t set up to do a half box of pears to a restaurant in San Francisco or a full box that is ripe,” he said.