As far as Chilean blueberry marketers are concerned, good things come in big packages. Larger packs make for a better value to consumers, the agents note.
“They’re going with bigger packs these days,” said Bob Von Rohr, marketing and customer relations manager for Sunny Valley International Inc., Glassboro, N.J. “On the Chilean end, the staple will be anywhere from 6-ounce to pints, and you’ll also have some growth in the 18-ouncers, as well.”
Size preferences sometimes change with certain times, but the overall trend is to larger pack-sizes, said Andres Armstrong, general manager of the Chilean Blueberry Committee, Santiago.
“We are still watching a bigger shift to bigger clamshells during the peak weeks,” he said. “Last season, the preferred packaging was the 18-ounce, also the 6-ounce as an alternative for nonfamily customers. Also 24-ounce packaging is showing important participation as well as the 1-pint clamshells.”
The move toward larger clamshells is probably universal in Chile, said Mike Bowe, vice president of Dave’s Specialty Imports Inc., based in Coral Springs, Fla.
“At this point, everybody, especially in Chile, has moved from the 4.4- to the 6-ounce,” he said. “There are obviously bigger clamshells available — the 18- and 24-ounce, but the staple is the pint. But a lot of that depends on the quality of the fruit you want to pack in a 24-ounce. It could be a nightmare.”
Chile’s growing production volume has driven that trend, he said.
“They’ll increase their overall volumes, so they’ve got to have alternatives, and one is bigger packages and bigger programs,” Bowe said.
It means more value to the consumer, said Cindy Jewell, marketing director with California Giant Inc., Watsonville.
“There’s less of the super-small,” she said. “Club packs have also helped to grow the blueberry market in the industry overall.”
That value can change from size to size, said Janice Honigberg, president of Washington, D.C.-based Sun Belle Inc.
“It generally depends on the price point, but we generally work through December in the 6-ounce, for the most part, but we do have all the other sizes available,” she said. “And that’s with the peak months. It’s a combination of 6-ounce and pints and increasing usage on the 18-ounce, as well.”
Aesthetics also play a role, Honigberg said, citing her company’s change in pint containers as an example.
“We’ve gone to a different pint containers that have a flatter profile and are better for the product and show it off better, which will be nice,” she said.
Pints have proven their worth, said Brian Bocock, vice president of product management for Naturipe Farms LLC, Naples, Fla.
“When you put that over to a pint, that’s like flipping a light switch. Your demand increases by more than double with more of a value proposition to the American consumer. Now we’re starting to pack more pints as demand increases,” he said.
The Vancouver, British Columbia-based Oppenheimer Group also has noticed the trend toward bigger packs, said Nolan Quinn, berry category director.
“We are seeing a preference for larger sized clamshells, which tend to deliver the greatest value for growers, retailers, and ultimately consumers,” he said.