Marketing efforts for Mexican grapes often follow the spring and summer holiday schedule.

“Memorial Day promotions are always popular, and holidays in general make grapes a great item to promote,” said Tom Wilson, grape sales manager for The Giumarra Cos., Los Angeles.

However, it’s important to promote early and often to maintain sales.

“For the early season, May through August, the key number of promotions is five and has shown a lift potential of 360%,” said Natalie Erlendson, marketing manager for Sun World International LLC, Bakersfield, Calif.

That trend changes as the season moves forward.

“In the late season, that key number is four promotions per month with a lift potential of 170%,” Erlendson said.

Shippers stress that following the peak of the season is important for Mexican grape promotions.

“We tell our retail clients when the peak will be and try to place them on promotion that week. It gives them a good promotable price and helps us move the volume at the same time,” said Jerry Havel, director of sales and marketing, Fresh Farms, Nogales, Ariz.

In addition to good quality fruit and value-based price promotions, creating large displays are effective and important, according to suppliers.

“We suggest that retailers take advantage of ad opportunities and build large displays to promote Mexican grapes in June,” said Marc Serpa, director of domestic grapes for The Oppenheimer Group, Vancouver, British Columbia.

Erlendson agreed.

“First and foremost, retailers should ensure grapes are given their fair share of space allocation in the department as they are one of the highest dollar contributors in produce,” she said.

In addition, increasing the size of displays can bring more attention to an item many consumers are familiar with but perhaps not already placing on their grocery lists.

“Grapes are primarily an impulse item, so we encourage retailers to create as much excitement and provide as much visibility to grapes as they can at the point of purchase,” she said.

Erlendson also suggests adding additional merchandising bins in secondary locations such as checkout stands or near cross-promotional items such as cheese or yogurt.

Offering multiple colors is important as well.

“Promoting red and black seedless grape varieties generally increases sales at all levels,” said Dennis Christou, vice president of marketing for Del Monte Fresh Produce, Coral Gables, Fla.

Others agree that large displays are helpful but whether to include black grapes in these promotions and displays is still up for debate, according to some suppliers.

Havel said most retailers he works with want all three varieties.

Louie Galvan, managing partner, Fruit Royale Inc., Delano, Calif., said they are helpful for creating eye-catching displays.

“Black grapes provide a nice color break,” he said.

However, John Pandol, special projects director for Pandol Bros. Inc., Delano, Calif., said he has seen a few stores move from a tricolor display to a bicolor display.

“Some stores have found that the inclusion of black grapes depresses sales,” he said.

In addition, nutrition information is something not to be overlooked.

“Retailers can also promote the various health benefits of fresh grapes and highlight their effect on children’s diets and health,” Christou said.

These education efforts are valuable for the entire produce department, particularly for items or varieties that may not be considered as mainstream.
“It is important to inform the consumer about what each fruit and vegetable can offer. For example, black seedless grapes are an excellent source of antioxidants,” Christou said.