Yellow tomatoes burst into NatureSweet line

09/30/2009 12:30:00 PM
Susie Cable

Sunbursts: little bites of sweet sunshine.

Even people who don’t especially like tomatoes love the taste of Desert Glory Ltd.’s new NatureSweet Sunbursts yellow cherry-size tomatoes, said Bryant Ambelang, chief executive officer and president of the San Antonio-based tomato grower-shipper.

The company plans to test market Sunbursts early next year.

Ambelang

It’s still doing taste tests, but consumer reactions thus far have been positive, Ambelang said. The tomato offers good shelf life, flavor and consumer appeal, he said.

Some yellow tomatoes are attractive, but not flavorful.

Ambelang said he’s excited to have found a sweet yellow tomato with an outstanding flavor that appeals to consumers who aren’t usually fond of tomatoes.

“For the first time, consumers who aren’t typically interested in tomatoes are interested,” he said.

Ambelang said Desert Glory’s research turns up many consumers who don’t like tomatoes, but he said it’s because they haven’t eaten a really good one.

The Sunbursts are sweet enough to appeal to fruit lovers, he said.

Branded strategy

Desert Glory is committed to providing a year-round supply of good tasting tomatoes and supporting the NatureSweet brand the way consumer packages should be supported, Ambelang said.

It uses various consumer marketing techniques, including television and radio commercials, merchandising racks, coupons and contests.

NatureSweet-brand sales increased about 20% over last year’s sales, and Ambelang said he hopes to see sales increases of 25% by the end of the year.

“We’ve had great support from our retailers,” Ambelang said. “The new merchandising rack was distributed to stores and they’re doing a great job of giving us space.”

The NatureSweet Cherubs merchandising rack is being introduced to retailers in Desert Glory’s distribution area.

In early September, Ambelang said Desert Glory shipped Cherubs as far east as Chicago, but it planned to launch soon in Ohio.

Ambelang said the Cherubs racks increase sales and reduce shrink.

In a test, a control market’s Cherubs sales increased by 3% during a 60-day period, while a test market in which a merchandising rack was used had its sales increase by 19%, Ambelang said.

The test market’s shrink decreased by 60%.

Desert Glory’s tomatoes are grown in five Mexican greenhouse facilities that are within 2½ hours of Guadalajara, Ambelang said.



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