Pineapple marketers say they’re excited about sales trends of whole fruit, but that fresh-cut dominates the category.
“While whole pineapples represent just over half of retail sales dollars and the growth trend is positive at 7% year-over-year, the fresh-cut segment is growing at almost 13%,” said Gina Garven, category insights manager for Eden Prairie, Minn.-based C.H. Robinson Worldwide Inc.
The only fresh-cut pineapple segment not showing year-on-year growth is sliced or wedged, Garven said.
“Consumers looking for convenience in preparation don’t get the value from these segments, because they still require some preparation as well as the premium in price,” Garven said.
However, she said, cored pineapple allows retailers to quickly and easily prepare pineapple in the store without adding cost for the customer.
“As more consumers look for convenience in fresh produce, and are willing to pay more for it, the segments that are seeing the most growth are chunked, cut and cubed,” Garven said.
Overall, growth in the fresh-cut segment is expected to continue to trend upward, said Dennis Christou, vice president of marketing with Del Monte Fresh Produce, Coral Gables, Fla.
“As the distribution chain becomes more sophisticated and the various channels manage to tackle the proper handling process for fresh-cut products, we are confident that this segment will continue to expand,” he said.
Sales increases are understandable, said Steve Benchimol, general manager of Miami-based Chestnut Hill Farms.
“The fresh-cut is definitely growing year after year, especially because there’s a real need for cut pineapples for many reasons,” he said.
The main reason is it’s difficult to cut, Benchimol said.
There’s also concern about waste, he said.
“Single families may not buy a whole pineapple because it’s too much, so you buy a couple of chunks, and the cutter has grown from zero to a big percentage of sales and it continues to grow,” he said.
The fresh-cut segment continues to feed pineapple consumption, said Ken Nabal, president of Kingston Fresh, the marketing arm of Idaho Falls, Idaho-based Kingston Cos.
“We’re seeing interest from a pineapple standpoint, with school lunch programs and products offered for fresh consumption there,” he said.
Charlotte, N.C.-based Chiquita Brands International Inc. also has noted fresh-cut’s effect on sales, said Abbye Lakin, a company spokeswoman.