Banana suppliers know retailers are the key to increasing sales, and lately they’ve seen an increase in interest about growing the category.

“Retailers have seen that you need to make an investment to make sure consumers have the right consistency in color,” said Bill Sheridan, executive vice president of sales for Banacol Marketing Corp., Coral Gables, Fla.

Sheridan says he has seen retailers make a bigger commitment to their banana display.

“Retailers are doing a better job overall of keeping better bananas in stock, with the right quality and color, and offering them at the right price,” he said.

That extra attention has led bananas to begin driving consumers to certain stores, Sheridan said.

“It’s almost a destination item for customers when they know they can go to a particular retail store, and they will always get consistency in color and the product they want to purchase,” he said.

Organics Unlimited, San Diego, also puts a strong focus on retailers.

President Mayra Velazquez de Leon said she has noticed increased retailer interaction.

“We have seen retailers have more interest in talking about the GROW program and trying to educate consumers about what the program is about,” Velazquez de Leon said.

The company’s GROW brand, which stands for Giving Resources and Opportunities to Workers, funds educational and health programs for workers and their families.

Companies still seek to reach out to retailers to help in any way they can, since increased sales are beneficial to both parties.

“We’ve seen a steady increase in sales, year to date. A lot of that is just from working with retailers to make sure they have a better product,” Sheridan said.

Customized promotional programs also help.

“In addition to social media, we use retailer-specific consumer promotions. We work directly with our customers and offer customized events and/or promotions to help grow the category,” said Dennis Christou, vice president of marketing, Del Monte Fresh Produce, Coral Gables, Fla.

Getting creative with consumer-focused promotions can also increase sales, suppliers say.

“We’re constantly looking at ways we can make bananas more compelling to retailers,” said Bil Goldfield, communications manager for Dole Fresh Fruit, Westlake Village, Calif.

This year, the company brought its brightly colored Peel the Love food truck to retailers in eight cities in an effort to engage the consumer at the supermarket level.

“We also provided retailers with explanatory point-of-sale signage and recipe cards for them to use to communicate these new programs and usages to their shoppers,” Goldfield said.

In-store signage is a popular way for retailers to communicate with consumers.

“P.O.S. is one of the strongest communication tools for a product like bananas that have no packaging real estate to use. Beyond this, a robust, full, clean and properly maintained and positioned banana display is most effective at stimulating banana sales,” Goldfield said.

Sheridan agrees that having a strong display, with good quality bananas displayed well, is key.

“Bananas are still an impulse item, and we’ve seen more data that customers want to know that when they shop at a particular store, they’ll have the right color with a nice display,” he said.

Sheridan said having a two-color program can be helpful.

“We really prefer retailers to use a two-color program, but we’ve seen a lot of success with one-colors programs if you do it correctly. It really depends on the company and their abilities,” he said.

In addition, using two banana displays in two key locations can help increase sales.

“When the store engages a secondary display in the front of the store or at checkout, sales for quick-trip and impulse purchases can increase sales weekly 6% to 12%,” Goldfield said.