Suppliers test fresh-cut oranges, grapefruit

12/09/2003 12:00:00 AM
Tom Burfield

SUCCESSFUL INTRODUCTIONS

Once suppliers come up with viable fresh-cut products, the work will be only half done. They — along with their retail partners —- will have to introduce the products to consumers and persuade them to pay what may be a premium price for a new version of a familiar product.

Sunkist’s testing will include “a thorough analysis of market potential,” Verloop says.

After product introductions, Del Monte plans to put together a full-blown program with retailers that likely will include in-store demos, advertising and merchandisers.

If fresh-cut citrus follows the same pattern as other fresh-cut products, it will start off slow and could use some help from coupons and in-store sampling to build momentum, Garrett says. There is evidence that consumers need to try a product and have a good experience with it at least three times before they’re sold on it, she says.

Wegman’s Corsi says he’d like to see suppliers provide enough product so retailers could sample it and educate customers.

“Demand is only as good as the flavor you offer and your execution strategy,” he says. “If you educate customers and the product tastes great, then it’s a winning combination.”

If suppliers offer an introductory retail price lower than the everyday price, it will motivate customers to try these items, he says, adding that quality demos will be needed to ensure repeat purchases.

Suppliers seem confident that fresh-cut citrus will make the next big bang on produce shelves, and most retailers seem willing to at least give it a test run. Whether the result will be a sales explosion remains to be seen.

As Schnuck’s O’Brien says, “The customer will make that choice.”


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