One retail customer increased its weekly volume to more than 500 pounds per week, Holbik said.
Frieda’s Inc., Los Alamitos, Calif., focuses heavily on the tropical category, which has paid off as one of the company’s top-selling categories, said Karen Caplan, chief executive officer.
“Retailers have found surprising demand for these sweet-tasting and oftentimes unusual-looking fruits,” Caplan said.
Retailers have to be committed to the category in order to succeed in it, said retail consultant Dick Spezzano, owner of Spezzano Consulting Service, Monrovia, Calif.
Many have fallen short, he said.
“I don’t see them doing a real great job on that,” he said. “It’s all about information and how well you train the produce people.”
Nurturing supply-side relationships also has been central to building a tropical fruit program, said Michael Castagnetto, strategic category manager with Eden Prairie, Minn.-based C.H. Robinson Worldwide.
“C.H. Robinson continues to invest in both our infrastructure and our grower base to produce premium products and in the past several years,” he said.
“We have expanded our growing regions in Mexico for limes and mangoes, added Brazilian mangoes to complete our year-round supply, developed a complete and robust Mexican pineapple program, and started a new avocado program.”