Dates gain ground in produce section

10/07/2013 11:04:00 AM
Melissa Shipman

Date suppliers say dates enjoy good representation in produce sections.

“We have a good, strong presence in the fresh produce section,” said Erin Hanagan, marketing manager for DatePac LLC, Yuma, Ariz.

In terms of retail placement, dates do well when placed in a display near the banana section.

“We find we have good consumer interest when we market them near bananas. It’s a good complement and a healthy snack,” Hanagan said.

Ben Antongiovanni, sales manager for Atlas Produce and Distribution, Bakersfield, Calif., agrees.

“We recommend retailers build displays in the middle of the banana section,” he said.

Dates are a good source of potassium and date suppliers want to promote them as a good substitute for bananas.

“If you need potassium in your diet, you can substitute dates,” Antongiovanni said.

Promotions

DatePac has several promotions planned for the year.

“We do four key promotions a year,” Hanagan said.

Some popular promotion times include fall and the holidays. Easter and Ramadan are also good times to promote dates, Hanagan said.

“Those are really big times for us,” she said.

However, date suppliers want retailers and consumers to think of dates as a year-round item, not something just for special occasions or holidays.

“We work with retailers to get year-round distribution,” Hanagan said.

Those efforts are beginning to pay off as more people are starting to use dates throughout the year as a healthy snack option or sweet alternative to sugar.

“It’s not just a seasonal thing anymore,” she said.

Hanagan also said the company is very focused on promoting dates at retail right now, although foodservice promotions could be a possibility in the future.

“There’s only so much you can do at one time,” she said. “It’s not that we don’t want to explore it, but at this point, we’re really focusing on the retail environment.”

Medjools

For DatePac, whole medjool dates are the most popular option for consumers right now.

“They’ve been around the longest and people are most familiar with them,” Hanagan said.

She said the company’s organic line is receiving strong interest.

“Those are extremely popular as well,” she said.



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