California strawberry grower-shippers deal with myriad supermarket chains throughout the U.S. and Canada that have implemented a variety of merchandising techniques to help their stores move more berries.
Stephanie Hilton, spokeswoman for Santa Cruz Berry Farming Co., Watsonville, Calif., said the best-performing stores in the strawberry category typically are those that feature the berries on front tables year-round.
They also keep their displays well stocked, especially in the afternoon, when consumers typically stop in on their way home from work.
“If you don’t, you’ll miss a lot of opportunity,” she said.
Doug Ranno, chief operating officer and managing partner for Colorful Harvest LLC, Salinas, Calif., agrees with the need to maintain full displays.
He estimates 70% of retail purchases are based on visual impact.
“Retailers are beginning to realize that keeping full displays equates to greater sales because of visual impulse,” he said.
“They’re paying a lot more attention to detail, ensuring that they are not running out of product on the shelf.”
Grower-shippers can play an important role in helping retailers sell more berries by staying in close contact with their retail customers and letting them know when volume is kicking in, said Jose Corona, president of Corona Marketing Co., Santa Maria, Calif.
That way, retailers can offer consumers the best possible ad prices, he said.
It’s important to price berries right, he emphasized, in order to keep the product flow steady.
Hilton also suggests offering a selection of package sizes.
“The 1-pounder has become a staple, but 2- and 4-pounders have become more popular over the past couple of years,” she said.
“You’re seeing more diversity in pack sizes,” Ranno said, from 8-ounce containers to 2- or 4-pound clamshells.
He also sees more high-density clamshell formats that allow a shipper to pack more product per pallet, resulting in reduced freight costs.
The 2-pound clamshell is the newest push in the supermarkets, said Charlie Staka, director of sales for CBS Farms, Watsonville.
“Consumers want large packages with lower price points,” he said.
He encourages retailers to advertise various sizes each week and to feature them side by side on the produce shelf throughout the season.
California Giant Inc., Watsonville, has launched some interactive promotions to help retailers sell more strawberries this season, marketing director Cindy Jewell said.
The company’s “Breath of Fresh Berries” sweepstakes and messages will run through April.
The company is using the national sweepstakes to drive consumer engagement, brand awareness and association of California Giant berries with a healthful lifestyle, she said.
“Each week during the month of April, California Giant Berry Farms will give away an activity-themed prize pack to a lucky winner chosen randomly from the entries received either through social media networks, their website or from scanning the (quick-response) code on each berry package,” she said.
Prize packs will include picnic backpacks and games families can enjoy together.
California Giant also plans a number of other promotions during the 2013 season to connect with consumers and increase sales and brand loyalty for the firm’s line of fresh berries, Jewell said.
She also encourages retailers to check out “The Cool Factor,” the company’s cold chain management video that has attracted nearly 1,000 views on the firm’s website and on YouTube.