Shipping crownless pineapples comes with a logistics advantage — more fruit and lower costs — but there are risks in dealing with them, as well, marketers say.
“With crownless, you get more pineapple in each box. However, more quality issues may result with the crown removed,” said Bil Goldfield, communications manager with Westlake Village, Calif.-based Dole Fresh Fruit Co.
The crown provides a cushion during shipping and can extend the shelf life of the fruit, Goldfield said.
“Also, due to higher weight per box with crownless pines, there may be a loss of some of the shipping efficiencies with overweight loads when going over the road,” he said.
Chiquita Brands International Inc., Charlotte, N.C., has seen increased demand for crownless pineapples, said Abbye Lakin, spokeswoman.
“You are able to fit two more crownless pines in a box versus with the crown on,” she said.
Coral Gables, Fla.-based Del Monte Fresh Produce has enjoyed steady growth in whole, crownless pineapple sales, said Dennis Christou, vice president of marketing.
“However, they are predominantly purchased for fresh-cut preparations and not sold directly to consumers,” he said.
The logistical advantages of crownless pineapples are evident, said Alan Dolezal, vice president of sales with Turbana Corp., Miami-based marketer of Fyffes-labeled pineapples in the U.S.
“In terms of pineapples shipped per case, crownless pineapple does enable a couple extra units to be packed per case due to the extra space in the box provided by the de-crowned fruit,” he said.
Jose Rossignoli, strategic category manager for logistics-focused C.H. Robinson Worldwide Inc., Eden Prairie, Minn., said crownless pineapple facilitates shipping by about 25% more units per container, which provides shipping-cost advantages that foodservice customers, in particular, find helpful.
“The downside to this is that the diminishing cosmetic appearance and the inability to tag the fruit properly often prevent this format from entering retail channels,” he said.
Consumers may not be ready to accept crownless pineapples, said Robert Schueller, director of public relations with World Variety Produce Inc., Los Angeles.
Processors prefer crownless, but it’s not something that would necessarily attract retail customers, said Steve Benchimol, general manager of Miami-based Chestnut Hill Farms.
“What makes the beauty of the pineapple is the crown, so it doesn’t make any sense to display crownless at store level,” he said.