Eric Patrick, marketing director with the Oakland, Calif.-based Grant J. Hunt Co., said store demonstrations often prove successful.
“It’s really seen as one of those superfruits, and it’s gotten a lot of publicity and it’s marketed in stores,” he said. “They go on ad and the more shelf space always improves sales. We’ve had a couple of years with a pretty aggressive demo program. Last year, they had the Zespri kiwifruit cars covered with kiwifruit logos and that worked well.”
Patrick noted “there’s definitely room for growth” in the U.S. market.
Kurt Cappelluti, sales manager for Madera, Calif.-based Stellar Distributing, said kiwifruit consumption has lagged in the U.S., compared to other countries, but at least it hasn’t dropped.
It hasn’t changed at all in the last 10 to 15 years,” he said. “You have your top 10 fruits — we’re probably between 45 and 60. We haven’t gotten any higher, but we haven’t fallen. It’s been stable. It’s just not a higher priority for buyers.”
Chris Kragie of Madera-based Western Fresh Marketing, agreed retailers who are aggressive in displays and offer different pack sizes can sell more fruit.
He also said the product still has plenty of growth potential.
“Although I believe the volume of sales increase yearly, I’m not sure of the numbers,” he said. “I do know that the USA is way down on the list of countries by per-capita consumption.”
Consumption also may be a seasonal matter, as well, said Tom Tjerandsen, managing director for North America with the Sonoma, Calif.-based Chilean Fresh Fruit Association.
“We haven’t seen the indices of consumption, but I suspect consumption is far greater in the summer,” he said, adding that about 15% of Chile’s kiwifruit harvest goes to the U.S. “The American consumer is faced with a vast array of choices, and it’s pretty easy to be forgotten if you don’t keep your name out there in front of the consuming public.”