Tropical fruit importers feel pressure to keep prices low

01/07/2010 03:20:08 PM

Larry Nienkerk, partner and general manager of Splendid Products LLC, Burlingame, Calif., said that at the recent National Mango Board meeting, the top discussion topic was the effect of the economy on consumer purchases of mangoes.

“It is pretty much intuitive that No. 1, mangoes are a relatively cheap piece of fruit most all of the year now,” he said. “It is usually a very good value fruit for the consumer, but, that being said, it’s difficult to get those people in the population who we would like to reach as new customers.”

Mangoes are not top of mind for consumers with limited disposable income, Nienkerk said, even though traditional customers realize its value.

Michael Warren, president of Central American Produce, Pompano Beach, points to value that comes from aesthetics and taste.

“We figure that if the melons look great and taste great, and they get in the stores at a price point that the consumers will feel good about buying it at, then (they) will also move great,” he said. “It’s a concerted effort always on the shipper’s part as well as the retailers working together to optimize the flow of fruit with the production that’s available.”

Warren said during his unscientific analysis of grocery carts in the produce section, melons are still a hot item.

“The consumer has choices when they are in the store, and certainly we are all expecting that people are watching their dollars right now,” he said. “So every trip to the store they may not be buying a melon. I like what I see. I see shopping carts going by with melons in the basket.”


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