When fresh cranberry season hits, retailers come alive with displays, marketers say.

That's where the product moves, after all.

"It's the big market for cranberries," said Bob Von Rohr, marketing and customer relations manager with Glassboro, N.J.-based Sunny Valley International Inc.

Consumers can most commonly find fresh berries in 12-ounce bags, Von Rohr said.

"Anything bigger is not really a big seller, although some buy a 2- and 3-pound bag and 8-pound bulk," he said.

Many consumers buy fresh product for freezing at the end of the season.

"They have them available when they need them. In fact, in our bag, we have freezing instructions, if you want to do that," Von Rohr said.

Some of the most successful merchandising of cranberries comes from retailers understanding how people use fresh cranberries, said Kellyanne Dignan, senior manager of corporate communications with Lakeville-Middleboro, Mass.-based Ocean Spray Cranberries.

More than half of shoppers buy fresh cranberries for desserts, so berries often are displayed near dessert items in stores, Dignan said.

"Over 70% use (berries) for sauce in their holiday meal, so tie-ins and merchandising along with turkey, stuffing, gravy, fresh potatoes, carrots, etc., (is common)," Dignan said.

Mary Brown, owner of Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.-based Glacial Lake Cranberries, launched a dried-cranberry company called Honestly Cranberries in 2014.

The new company provided a segue into other departments inside grocery stores, Brown said.

"Honestly Cranberry offers dried cranberries that are unsweetened, with no added sugars, juices or oils. It's a new category," she said.

The company's 1- and 4-ounce packs can be found in grocery and even health aisles, as well as produce departments, Brown said.

"Retail is changing, mind you, and each store has its own program," she said.

Retail promotions of cranberries are common during the holidays, and marketers are trying to extend those efforts beyond the Thanksgiving-Christmas period, said Brian Wick, executive director of the Cape Cod Cranberry Growers Association in Carver, Mass.

"One of the things the industry is looking at is trying to get cranberries to be more top of mind year-round and get major food chains to have more promotions in non-holiday seasons," he said.

That calls for in-store product sampling and other promotional activities, as well as recipes, Wick said.

"It's something the industry is moving toward," he said.

It's also important to keep cranberries visible in stores, said Doug Perkins, CEO of HBF International LLC in Sheridan, Ore.

"Placing cranberries in a high-traffic location in your produce department would be suggested," he said.

The Wareham, Mass.-based Cranberry Marketing Committee often works with registered dietitians in promoting cranberry consumption, said Michelle Hogan, the committee's executive director.

"We've noticed that consumers look toward in-store RDs as their trusted advisers on what to purchase and how to incorporate certain products into an overall healthy diet," Hogan said.

Cooking demonstrations also are powerful marketing tools in-store, Hogan said.

"We have created resources this year for retailers to more easily participate in our upcoming Cranberry Friendsgiving Photo Contest," she said.

"We've also partnered with a wine company who will provide a coupon for fresh product."

It's also important to maintain the quality of the berries in the store, said Bob Wilson, managing member of Wisconsin Rapids, Wis.-based The Cranberry Network LLC, which markets fruit grown by Tomah, Wis.-based Habelman Bros. Co.

"We tell this story every year - maintaining the cool chain is extremely important to maintaining the maximum shelf life," he said.

The Cranberry Network and Salinas, Calif.-based Naturipe Farms are expanding their Grab n' Go program this year for retail, Wilson said.

"We have a brand new high-resolution graphic, fitted pouches with a plastic zipper and handle," he said of the stand-up bag, which came out last year as a 32-ounce item primarily for retailers looking for an up-size for peak-season push or for clubs.

"Now, this year, we're introducing a 16-ounce size, which is an up-size from the traditional 12-ounce pillow pack, and we're making sure we're putting an absolutely premium berry in," Wilson said.

 

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