Mother’s Day is a natural for strawberry promotions, but it also depends on competing fruit, he said.
One of the challenges with year-round strawberry availability is keeping the momentum at the retail level, Ivanovich said. As summer stone fruit and table grapes enter the market, retailers may be inclined to put more energy into promoting the other items because of their newness.
“But we want to be part of that fruit salad,” he said.
Jewell said strawberries are moving from an impulse fruit purchase to a specific item on a shopping list. Consumers also are trying to keep strawberries in the house, trends that are big shifts from only a few years ago.
Strawberries are the strongest member of the profitable berry category, accounting for 49.9% of berry dollar sales and 68.8% of berry pound sales in 2013, according to the commission.
When combined with other berries, the overall berry category is tops in annual produce sales with $5.1 billion.
“It’s a strong category,” Jewell said. “And more and more consumers are shopping the category as a whole.”
That’s where a berry patch concept — displaying strawberries along with other berries — yields sales bumps, Christian said.
“You’re creating a one-stop shop for the consumer,” she said.
Jim Grabowski, marketing director for Watsonville-based Well-Pict Berries, said the concept appears to have caught on.
“I think they generally look to strawberries to be the draw, then get incremental sales from the other berry varieties,” he said.
Promoting strawberries along with another type of berry the same week also helps boost overall category sales, Christian said.
In addition, secondary strawberry displays, such as near the bakery or dairy case, can prompt consumer impulse purchases, she said.
“Make sure your displays are full and you’re allocating the right amount of space to them,” Christian said.