(May 13, 3:36 p.m.) Pepper marketers sometimes like to let their product’s color tell its story in retail produce departments.

Summer is the right time to do that, said James Milne, director of the greenhouse category for the Vancouver, British Columbia-based The Oppenheimer Group.

“We are encouraging retailers to promote peppers frequently between now and the end of August,” Milne said. “Such tactics as ads promoting all three colors at once, or building a large, colorful display at the front of the produce department — because peppers do not need to be misted or stored on the cool rack — can result in large incremental gains.”

Some marketers try to cross-promote peppers with other produce items in their repertoire.

“We do a lot of cross-promotions with squash items,” said Yolanda Ramirez, marketing director for Santa Maria, Calif.-based Better Produce. “Squash, peppers and beans all seem to go together. If you have a retailer buying them, they usually have a commodity manager that usually buys all three items.”

Having year-round availability of products also helps to drive marketing efforts at retail, as well, Ramirez said.

“It keeps the label out there, keeps movement going, and you establish year-round relationships with people,” she said.

Coachella, Calif.-based Peter Rabbit Farms tries to start of its pepper season with a flourish of deals, said John Burton, sales manager.

“Typically we go out with chains and deals to our vendors that are wholesalers and terminal-market guys,” he said. “We work a certain percent of our crop through prices that are more or less averaged from the year before. We have prices to really promote quality green bell peppers. For the rest, we go with prevailing market conditions.”

Peter Rabbit doesn’t do a lot of work with retailers on display ideas, because there’s no need to do that, Burton said.

“We leave the experts to display their own way,” he said. “We’ll offer a variety of packs. Maybe they want an (returnable plastic container)-type container, maybe a fixed count, rather than ballpark count. Maybe they’ll want special pricing for any holiday, and we’ll try to meet those needs wherever possible.”

Ad placements matter early and, perhaps, late in the season, Burton said.”

“Once we see the season starts and demand far outstrips supply, we back off too many ads out there,” he said. “The last three or four weeks, we’ve tried to make sure customers feel confident about the market, that supplies will be ample out there.”

Offering different colors in peppers also can be effective at retail, Burton said.

“We’ll do all three colors when they get going,” he said.

Cross-promoting peppers isn’t part of the company’s strategy, however, Burton noted.

“Typically, peppers are a stand-alone item,” he said. “If you’re in peppers, you may go color, but very rarely will you cross that with another item.”

Specialty packs are big sellers for Nogales, Ariz.-based Farmer’s Best International LLC, said Jerry Wagner, sales and marketing director.

“We do specialty packs on all our different peppers,” he said. “We can’t be everything to everybody but we do a tremendous amount of packs for different retailers in all our bell peppers.”

Multicolored stoplight packs are not big sellers, he said.

“There’s not a big market for that,” he said.

Burton agreed.

“We’re not currently requested to do any,” Burton said. “We see more in the retail packs, and we have some customers doing it on their own. We currently are not. We may supply them but aren’t doing it ourselves.”

Immokalee, Fla.-based Six L’s Packing Co. Inc. has display-ready packs, said Darren Micelle, chief marketing executive for the company.

“We’ve had very good feedback on that in our direct-to-retail program,” he said. “It seems to be the way the way they’re going. It’s a two-layer, high-graphic display-ready pack.”