Most Florida strawberries ship to retail customers

01/04/2011 05:39:38 PM
Doug Ohlemeier

Cross-merchandising strawberries help increase sales, said Doug Ranno, chief operating officer and managing partner with Colorful Harvest LLC, Salinas, Calif.

“Merchandising strawberries in secondary display locations on key fruit products have demonstrated time and time again a 15% to 20% incremental sales increase with all factors considered,” he said.

“As smart produce merchandisers begin to use fact-based tests and industry data to communicate this information to store directors and regional managers, we will continue to see more secondary displays popping up in other parts of the store.”

Ranno said strawberries merchandise well in secondary displays in the cereal aisle, in the bakery area and as grab-and-go store-prepared cups of washed berries in the value-added sections and in lunch cases.

SunnyRidge Farm Inc., Winter Haven, distributes most of its Florida-grown strawberries to customers east of the Mississippi River and in Canada, going further west only on rare occasions, said Sal Toscano, product manager.

Retail is the focus, he said, and other growing regions, such as California, don’t have as big an influence on the market or prices when Florida is in its volume.
“Traditionally, Florida is the leader in winter berry shipments,” Toscano said.

“It’s supply and demand. While we are always conscious of what another major growing region is doing, we don’t pay that much attention to how they are affecting us as much as what we are doing with our product. Florida is a substantial winter strawberry producer.”

Toscano said Florida during recent years has been improving its reputation for producing high quality and good-tasting berries.

Astin Strawberry Exchange LLC ships about 95% of its berries to supermarket buyers. The grower-shipper pre-sells 90% of its crop to supermarket and club stores through contracts, said Shawn Pollard, salesman.

“The festival variety ships well,” he said.

“Once they kick in, it gives you some flexibility to ship to different customers around the U.S.”


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