(Nov. 12) Fresh-cut fruit could be the latest ammunition used by a major fast-food chain to introduce healthier items to its menu and differentiate itself from its competition.

Wendy’s International Inc., Dublin, Ohio, is test-marketing an entree-sized fruit bowl salad and fruit cup at 184 of its restaurants in Pittsburgh; Portland, Ore.; and Virginia Beach, Va.

The latest fresh fruit experiment follows a successful testing and national rollout of mandarin orange fresh fruit cups.

The 8.6-ounce fruit bowl features slices of cantaloupe and honeydew, chunks of pineapple and red seedless grapes.

The fruit is served atop a bed of romaine lettuce. A low-fat strawberry-flavored yogurt dip accompanies the plastic bowl.

The fruit is also available in a 5.3-ounce cup as a side item without the lettuce and dipping sauce.

“People are looking for great tasting, nutritious options — and fruit is a terrific alternative,” said Bob Bertini, Wendy’s director of communications.

Wendy’s is testing selling the bowls for $3.99 or $4.29 and the cups for $1.99 or $2.99.

The test started Nov. 1. Wendy’s will decide if it will offer the fruit entrée at all of its 6,535 stores by the end of the year, Bertini said.

Wendy’s identified the supplier as Fresh Del Monte Produce NA Inc., Coral Gables, Fla., which also supplied fruit for the earlier fruit cup test.

Del Monte officials declined to comment.

In August, the chain nationally launched a fruit cup it had tested last fall in Philadelphia; Miami; Raleigh, N.C.; and Columbus, Ohio.

Wendy’s leaders were encouraged by the strong response it received from the fruit. It sold more than 425,000 of them a week a month after its introduction.

The fruit cups — sold to children as part of a kids’ meals as an alternative to french fries — were also sold to adults as a side item.

Wendy’s kicked off the salad wars by introducing its Garden Sensations salad line in 2002.

Burger firm Wendy’s trying out fruit bowl
Wendy’s fruit bowls feature cantaloupe, honeydew, pineapple and red seedless grapes served on a bed of romaine lettuce with strawberry-flavored yogurt dip.