Chiquita Brands also offers single banana fingers. The Cincinnati-based company featured two package sizes of singles at Fruit Logistica 2012 in Berlin. One option is a box with 30 bananas. The other is a crate of 150 single fingers.
Pricing and displays of bananas at convenience stores varies widely. A late-February promotion at QuikTrip stores in the Kansas City metropolitan area used signs at gas pumps to tout bananas for 39 cents per pound. During the same week, truck stops along Interstate 70 near St. Louis were selling single fingers at prices ranging from 59 cents each up to $1.
Specialties slowly gain ground
Although the traditional cavendish variety still accounts for the vast majority of banana sales in the U.S., specialties such as reds, minis and plantains are becoming more popular.
At Del Monte, about 5% of all banana sales are in the specialty varieties, Christou said. He attributes much of the growing popularity to the growing ethnic population in the U.S. He said retailers in areas with high concentrations of Hispanic customers are finding great success with plantains and manzanos.
DiMartini said Turbana is working to educate its retail customers about the revenue potential of specialties.
“Different demographics utilize and prepare exotics and plantains in different ways,” DiMartini said. “We have the ability to use data that captures consumer buying behavior based on a number of measurable factors. We share this data with our retailers.”
The Turbana strategy is to help its retailers capitalize on the potential of certain items to increase their margins and grow their overall banana category, DiMartini said.