(UPDATED COVERAGE, July 17) Baloian Farms is targeting thrifty consumers with the introduction of Oddbells, a 1-pound pack of misshapen green or red bell peppers.
The cello packs of three or four peppers will be available for retail in units of 12 the last week of July, said Jeremy Lane, sales manager for Baloian Farms, Fresno, Calif.
Instead of the standard blocky shape, Oddbells come in a variety of shapes.
Up to 30% of all peppers become misshapen because of crowding on plants or seasonal differences in pollination, according to the company. They’re typically sold to processors and foodservice providers for lower prices.
“There’s an opportunity with this new bag to purchase something that’s a little more competitively priced and more of a value than a perfectly shaped pepper,” Lane said. “We’re trying to capture those 40% of customers who are shopping multiple channels, so that instead of leaving, they see the value at the store that’s handling Oddbells.”
It also targets consumers loyal to a single retail banner, he said.
Odd shapes are nothing new to bell peppers in the retail world. But Baloian’s packaging marks a distinct approach, Lane said.
“We see both regional and national chains selling misshapen peppers at store level,” he said. “But when they’re left open in bulk displays, you witness shoppers doing a culling process right there. They’re grading them and selecting the bigger or slightly less misshapen ones. Stores are realizing shrink at retail level by doing that.”
Oddbells sidestep such culling, according to the grower-shipper.
The back of the bag offers a recipe for Crazy Good Oddbell Salsa, along with a web address and some consumer messaging.
“It celebrates the unique shape rather than looking at it as a pepper that’s less attractive,” Lane said. “It affects the aesthetics of the display in the produce apartment. Instead of just putting mounds of misshapen peppers with no messaging or perceived value than the price slapped on the front, you’ve cleaned it up and added some value.”
The grower-shipper is banking on trends toward higher bell pepper consumption, increased fresh produce use in home cooking, and continued consumer interest in cost savings.