Pineapple lovers don’t need to be convinced to buy this perennial favorite.
It’s the hesitant consumer, the one who maybe doesn’t know how to cut a fruit or what to do besides eat pineapple chunks that leaves the category open for expansion.
In the long term, pineapple consumption has expanded exponentially, said Alan Dolezal, vice president of sales for Coral Gables, Fla.-based Turbana Corp., especially since the MD2 variety came to the forefront.
“But over the last few years, consumption has really plateaued,” Dolezal said. “That’s primarily economically driven.”
Spurring consumers back into that growth mode depends on several factors, suppliers said.
“It’s incumbent to educate the consumer on what the dietary attributes are of the fruit and when it’s ready to eat,” Dolezal said.
Knowing when fruit is ripe is a big factor. Many consumers, Dolezal said, equate ripeness with color.
“There’s a misconception among consumers that when they see green pineapple, it’s not ready to eat,” he said.
“Ripeness is determined by maturity and harvest point brix and brix to acidity. The degreening of fruit is a process that is done artificially.”
Retailers can get around that learning curve easily.
“That’s where some retailers who offer cored fruit versus non-cored fruit have a bit of an advantage,” he said.
Ensuring the sweetest fruit makes it to market also is essential, said Alvaro Acevedo, vice president of sales and marketing for Miami-based Chestnut Hill Farms.
“Increasing consumption is a combination of promotion and advertising at store level and continuing to deliver the sweetest fruit possible,” he said.
Convenience is a major factor in increasing pineapple consumption, said Dennis Christou, vice president of marketing for Coral Gables-based Del Monte Fresh Produce NA.
“Offering value-added and fresh-cut pineapple is very important and presents many opportunities for growth,” he said.
“By making pineapples ready to eat, Del Monte has put the fruit in the hands of the consumers who might not have picked up a pineapple due to convenience or preparation reasons.”
For convenience, Del Monte offers cylinders, spears, wedges, chunks and slices.
“Consumers who find the task of coring and slicing a whole pineapple daunting and intimidating appreciate the ready-to-eat fruit, and those on the go enjoy the convenience of the healthy fresh-cut snack,” Christou said.
To get consumers thinking about different uses for pineapples, Westlake Village, Calif.-based Dole Fresh Fruit plans to expand its tropical grilling this spring.