Merchandisers for the Sonoma, Calif.-based Chilean Fresh Fruit Association hit the retail path in November to begin sharing the fruits of a research project aimed at finding the best retail marketers of Chilean grapes and other fruit in the U.S. and using their techniques to help other retailers thrive.

The association bought retail market share information for the past two years to figure out where Chilean fruit was selling well, and why, said Tom Tjerandsen, managing director for North America for the association.

“We analyzed what the best retailers were doing,” Tjerandsen said.

“How  often they ran ads, what was the margin of discount, what was the varietal mix, where they selling loose or in clams or bags.”

Was there in-store signage? Did that signage contain nutritional information? There were few stones the association left unturned in analyzing the U.S. retail marketplace.

Now the results are in, and the association is ready to put them to use.

“We now have a firm understanding of what the top performers are doing to achieve spectacular results,” Tjerandsen said.

Merchandisers are working with some of the underperformers to strengthen sales of Chilean fruit.

“We’re hoping to see some pretty substantial results.”

One challenge, Tjerandsen said, is to build relationships between merchandisers and buyers and then have them fall apart because of turnover.

“There’s incredible turnover among buyers at the store level,” he said.

The association is also building marketing strategies this season based on a recently completed study by the West Dundee, Ill.-based Perishables Group that sought to answer the question, “Why advertise Chilean fruit?”

The answer was clear, based on the study’s findings, Tjerandsen said. Through an analysis of shoppers’ baskets at checkout, when people bought Chilean fruit, their grocery bill was higher and filled with higher-end items, which meant more profit for retailers, Tjerandsen said.