Berries are available year-round, but the domestic season brings a special seasonal appeal to the category. Spring and summer are ripe for berry promotions.
“Berries are one of the ‘sexy’ items of the produce department,” said Matt Curry, president, Curry & Co. Inc., Brooks, Ore. “They create sizzle and excitement.”
People like to talk about berries a lot, which creates a constant buzz about the fruits, he said.
“Although blueberries are year-round, they can still be perceived as seasonal, and we try to create excitement when a new crop is starting,” Curry said. “We are always excited when blueberry season gets started.”
Consumers look for berries throughout the year, but they are especially interested in them in the spring and summer, said Cindy Jewell, marketing director, California Giant Berry Farms, Watsonville, Calif. Typically, during those seasons, retailers expand the size of berry category displays, she said.
In April, Jewell said California Giant’s strawberry crops would be ready for promotions.
“The fruit looks great, and the retail community is excited to promote berries,” she said.
Michelle Deleissegues, marketing director at Red Blossom Farms, Los Olivos, Calif., said the company’s strawberries would be available in good volumes to push for Mother’s Day, graduation, Father’s Day and other special occasions.
“The volume and quality look excellent for upcoming promotions,” Deleissegues said.
Because May and June are months when California berry production peaks, June is a good time for retailers to aggressively promote berries, Jewell said.
The Oppenheimer Group, Vancouver, British Columbia, encourages retailers to establish large displays of berries so that shoppers can easily find them, said Nolan Quinn, berry category director.
Consumers often buy berries on impulse, so Oppenheimer works with its retailer customers to build large displays with prominent placing for its Ocean Spray-brand blueberries.
Marketers recommend the berry patch approach, which showcases all varieties of berries in one destination area. Building a berry patch can boost sales of all types of berries, Quinn said.
In addition to the berry patch display, California Giant recommends making sure berries look their best by reworking and rotating displays. Displaying complementary items nearby is likely to increase sales. For example, toppings, cereals and crepes go well with berries. If they’re readily available, consumers tend to put more items in their baskets.
“It’s one more way to increase the ring at the register,” Jewell said. “Consumers are looking for solutions, and they’re in a hurry.”
Curry said Curry & Co. works with key retailer partners to set up promotions at specific times. It works to fit its marketing plan to the needs of each customer.
Some retailers promote Curry & Co.’s California blueberries as local or regional berries. Other retailers do the same with blueberries from the Pacific Northwest.
Curry said the company promotes blueberries’ healthful attributes as much as possible.
“Blueberries give our retail partners one of the highest dollar-per-square-foot values in the produce department,” Curry said. “Blueberry promotions can drive significant sales.”