Fall a good time to maintain tropical fruit sales momentum

09/02/2011 09:24:00 AM
Dan Gailbraith

After moving a lot of tropical fruit items through the spring and summer months, retailers should have a jump start on fall sales, marketing agents say.

The key is to keep the momentum going and not automatically give way to more-seasonal items, said Mary Ostlund, marketing director for Homestead, Fla.-based Brooks Tropicals Inc.

“‘Don’t drop them’ is sage advice,” she said.

“Don’t let fall’s pumpkins and seasonal colors so dominate your store that when Thanksgiving is over, your produce section looks ransacked. Having a great tropical section that can be expanded to reduce winter’s doldrums is smart.”

Louie Carricarte, president and owner of Homestead-based Unity Groves Corp., agreed.

“We tell them to give it a chance,” he said. “We start with small volume. Most of the stuff goes really well, once people are willing to try it.”

Fall displays should include tropicals, Ostlund said.

“Hosts and hostesses love to up the ante at their Thanksgiving meals with new ideas,” she said.

“Sometimes that can be a side dish starring a tropical or a traditional dish updated with a tropical item like Caribbean red papaya.”

Retailers are responsive to fall promotional ideas, said Jan DeLyser, vice president of marketing for the California Avocado Commission, Irvine.

“They’re continuing to display avocados in very prominent, permanent locations,” DeLyser said.

“They’ve got good locations in their ads. It’s been very gratifying to see that support.”

Fall retail sales should be brisk, said Charlie Eagle, vice president of business development for Southern Specialties Inc., Pompano Beach, Fla.

“I think we’re going to see good movement,” he said.

“There is a strong segment of retail consumers that already have mangoes and papayas as part of their regular purchases.”

Shippers need to make sure there are promotable volumes of product available, said Greg Golden, partner in and sales manager for Amazon Produce Network, Mullica Hill, N.J., which specializes in mangoes.

“Because of the supply situation being so tight, we’re concentrating on guaranteeing supply and quality and service, and trying to get to a price that makes money for the grower is difficult this year,” he said.

“The exchange rate is so weak and shipping costs have taken another drastic increase, like 15%, this year, that price is not what most would consider at promotion. You just can’t get to the retailers that you can get to in the Mexican season. You can get to promotable prices, but the extremely high margins for retailers just aren’t there (at) the price that the growers need to keep it.”


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