Berry packers aim for variety of sizes - The Packer

Berry packers aim for variety of sizes

05/14/2013 10:11:00 AM
Melissa Shipman

Variety seems to be emerging as a trend in berry pack sizes, though larger sizes are also popular.

Nolan Quinn, berry category director for The Oppenheimer Group, Vancouver, British Columbia, says larger pack sizes are gaining in popularity.

“Larger pack styles are becoming the norm. We believe the 18-ounce clam is the pint of tomorrow, from a popularity standpoint,” he said.

Brad Peterson, organic category manager for Well-Pict Berries Inc., Watsonville, Calif., agrees that larger sizes are becoming more standard.

“A lot of retail trends are going more toward bulk packs. In the past, the 1-pound has been the go-to size, but now a lot of retailers are exploring into 2 pounds and up. They want to pass the value on to the consumer,” he said.

Value isn’t the only reason the larger size is increasing in popularity. Consumers simply want more berries at a time, Quinn said.

“Consumers are showing a greater appetite for larger quantities of berries in a single purchase, so we are channeling greater volumes into bigger packs with good results,” he said in an e-mail.

Curry & Co., Brooks, Ore., plans to focus on its primary pack sizes of 2 pounds, 18 ounces, 1 pint and 6 ounces, said Bruce Turner, director of sales and business development for berries.

However, Turner said the company plans to offer larger packs when the supply allows.

“During peak volumes, we’ll offer multi-tiered programs with larger packs such as our 5-pound bulk display box,” he said in an e-mail.

When berries aren’t at peak supply, the smaller pack sizes are still popular.

“During off-peak periods, 6 ounces is our most popular size,” Turner said.

Despite the growing trend for larger pack sizes, suppliers agree that variety is key, especially for blueberries right now.

“In the past, you could promote one pack style, but now that the industry is maturing, it’s more about catering to the individual consumer needs,” said Doug Perkins, managing director at Hurst’s Berry Farm, Sheridan, Ore.

Companies are now trying to meet the needs of more than one kind of consumer, which means having more choices at retail.

“You can have a small clamshell and a family size. You might see multiple pack styles on the shelf,” he said.

Other berries are following in blueberries’ footsteps.

“We are seeing similar things with blackberries and raspberries, but they are a few years behind blueberries, and they are a little more perishable,” Perkins said.

Even smaller sizes have an important place on shelves, especially in regards to snacking convenience.

“This overall trend for convenience is why you’re seeing even smaller blueberry packs developed as on-the-go,” Turner said in an e-mail.

Michelle Deleissegues, director of marketing for Red Blossom Sales, Oxnard, Calif., says bigger isn’t always better — she has noticed the 3-pound unit is gaining momentum as an alternative to 4-pound packs of strawberries.

“Retailers can lower their price for the 3-pounder and still carry a large-sized unit. It also seems to be a more usable unit for the consumer without having waste,” she said.

Deleissegues also said the 2-pound unit is popular right now as well.

Los Angeles-based Gourmet Trading Co., is also offering smaller sizes, but not necessarily because of consumer trends. The decision was made more for packing purposes.

The company is offering its Superblue blueberries in slightly smaller pack sizes, compared to traditional berries.

“The berries are so large that we cannot fit in enough berries to make weight without crushing the berries, and the slightly reduced volume allows for a closer price point to the regular blues,” marketing director Julia Inestroza said.

The company had success with this technique last year and hopes to expand it during this season.

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