Global Berry Congress panelists Ed Garner, (from left), communications director for Kantar Worldpanel, Steve Lutz, executive Vice president at the Perishables Group, and Dan Crowley, sales manager for Well-Pict Berries, discuss the effect of promotions on berry sales.
âAs that promotion price pushes higher, youâve got a price-sensitive consumer (and) you begin to see more switching behavior,â Lutz said. âWill we, in a sense, create switching from berries to grapes to apples or items that have a slightly lower price point?â
In this environment a 10% increase in berry prices, for example, would translate into a 15% loss in volume, according to Lutz. âPrice is motivating consumers to trade down, and thatâs not a positive trend,â he said.
âItâs up to our trading partners to stay very aggressive at price point,â said Dan Crowley, sales manager for Watsonville, Calif.-based Well-Pict Berries.
The number of households purchasing berries dipped 2.1% in the last year. There was also a drop in same-store purchases.
âIt appears to be deal shoppers â¦ going out of their way,â Lutz said.
But the recent past has been good to berries â all varieties. Through the end of February, dollar value was up 7.4% annually, and volume was up 8.2%. Because theyâre popular with more affluent shoppers, theyâre likely to hold onto their retail space, Lutz said.
In the United Kingdom price is a concern, but not always an overriding one, said Ed Garner, communications director for Kantar Worldpanel.
âThe marketâs going in two directions at once,â Garner said. âThe recessionâs been bad for some people, good for others.â
Blueberry sales in the U.K. grew substantially, gaining 12.1 million British pounds in value and 20% in volume over the last year, Garner said.
In the U.S., Lutz said, blackberry and raspberry distribution is closing in on strawberry and blueberry levels.
âSome of the gains weâve enjoyed have been a result of increased distribution,â he said. âOnce the pipeline is full, you have to work on how to differentiate packages sizes and units to continue to drive the same level of growth.â
It was the first time the congress, begun in 2008, was in the U.S. Plans are to have it in Europe in May 2012 and in the U.S. again in May 2013. More than a dozen speakers and panelists took part in the Monterey event at the Hyatt Regency.