“While consumer knowledge of pineapples has definitely increased, the overall level of understanding still resides at the “tip of the iceberg” stage,” said Alan Dolezal, vice president of sales for Coral Gables, Fla.-based Turbana Corp.
“The most common fallacy still embraced by many shoppers is that the relative absence or presence of external shell color on the fruit, or ‘ripeness,’ is indicative of flavor or ‘sweetness,’” he said.
Dolezal said Turbana, which markets Fyffes pineapples, communicates that message to consumers in the store.
“The tags on our pineapples state that the fruit is harvested ‘ripe and ready to eat,’” he said.
Other problems deal with preparation.
“One of the biggest obstacles in purchasing is consumers’ unfamiliarity or comfort in cutting and using pineapple,” said Bil Goldfield, communications manager for Dole Fresh Fruit, Westlake Village, Calif.
Goldfield said Dole uses in-store demonstrations to help teach consumers about pineapples, which has led hesitant buyers to purchase pineapple for the first time.
Other companies have also seen the continued need for educating consumers about pineapples.
“Most consumers don’t know how to select it, cut it, prepare it or ways to consume it,” said Pablo Jimenez, marketing manager for the Mexican Pineapple Exporters Association (AMEP).
“I would say that even though it is a well-known product, it still has ways to go.”
Jimenez said consumers don’t always understand the origins of pineapples at retail locations.
The association strives to educate retailers about Mexican-grown pineapples.“We need buyers to recognize the quality of our fruit and see the dynamics we have been having in the U.S. market because we have been gaining market share each year,” he said.
Another important aspect of educating consumers about pineapples is making sure people understand the nutritional benefits.
Bill Sheridan, executive vice president of sales for Banacol Marketing Corp., Coral Gables, Fla., agreed that pineapple has great health benefits, a huge draw during the winter.
“Pineapples are a great source of vitamin C, so we really couldn’t have a better product to promote this time of year,” he said.
“It is also high in concentration of the enzyme bromelain, which is a natural anti-inflammatory agent. The fruit is also fat-free, cholesterol-free, and almost completely sodium-free,” Dolezal said.
“People don’t recognize the vitamin C content in pineapples and the way bromelain works in our digestive system,” Jimenez said.
As far as educational efforts, many companies prefer to use in-store demonstrations.
“Demos remain one of the best tools for educating consumers about the fruit’s taste, and demos also trigger a high percentage of same day purchases, as well as frequent repeat purchases,” Dolezal said.
Other companies offer point-of-purchase materials.
“We educate through customized signage we create on retailer request,” said Robert Schueller, director of public relations for World Variety Produce, Los Angeles.
Schueller said the company also uses its website to educate consumers by listing the Web address on company labels.