Marketing organic produce brings some special challenges.
For one thing, at many stores organic displays are quite small, which means they don’t see as much traffic.
“The biggest thing we’re challenged with is small displays,” said Roger Pepperl, marketing director of Stemilt Growers Inc., Wenatchee, Wash.
Another problem can be the higher price associated with organic produce.
“The cost will probably always be as much as twice as much, so there is a lot of pressure as retailers want bigger and better deals,” said Diane Dempster, organic specialist for Seattle-based wholesaler Charlie’s Produce.
Unfortunately, the price isn’t as negotiable as the size of displays, so suppliers seek to increase consumer awareness and grow demand for the category through marketing.
And, as the demand for organic product grows, the displays tend to grow as well.
“I’ve noticed more and more retailers have dedicated organic sections,” said Karen Caplan, president and chief executive officer of Frieda’s Specialty Produce, Los Alamitos, Calif.
“Organic products can really stand out by having a designated section that’s set apart with the proper labeling,” Caplan said.
Having organic options on ad is also an important part of marketing efforts, Pepperl said.
“We like to see promotions happen every so often,” he said. “Promotion forces produce managers to build larger displays to support those ads.”
Pepperl thinks that by placing organics on special, it creates an exciting atmosphere.
“We try to create a festival atmosphere to let people know that retailer is a real player in organics,” he said.
Lakeside Organic Gardens, Watsonville, Calif., recently launched an idea to gain more public attention, and they took the promotion to the streets.
In July, the company redesigned its trucks used on local routes to include bright, high-graphic wraps.
The trucks — which feature the company’s logo, as well as a talking carrot cartoon that exclaims, “Don’t panic, it’s organic!” — are meant to be fun and bright and attract attention while making daily deliveries.
“These trucks make our local deliveries throughout California and most commonly to the San Francisco Bay Area,” spokeswoman Lindsey Roberts said in an e-mail.
Roberts described the trucks are providing “roadside entertainment” to consumers while the produce is shipped throughout the area.
Having packaging and in-store display materials that help identify the product as organic while educating the public are popular options to try and increase sales.
“We have done a lot of work in the past to work with partners on display-ready bins with different ways to highlight and educate about organics,” said Scott Mabs, chief executive officer of Homegrown Organic Farms, Porterville, Calif.
Education efforts top the list of ways retailers try and connect with consumers.
“Helping people understand is still a really big part of it,” Mabs said. “There is still a process to help them understand what it is and what it is not.”
Having a product or package that stands out on the shelf can help identify the item as organic.
Companies strive to have unique, fresh package designs as well.
“We recently updated our logo. We believe it really enhances the look on the shelf and separates the product from the rest of the pack,” said Doug Classen, sales manager for The Nunes Co., Salinas, Calif.