If promoting one kind of berry is good, promoting several options is even better. That’s the advice Cindy Jewell, vice president of marketing for Watsonville-based California Giant Berry Farms, has for retailers who want to make the most of the berry category this spring and summer.

Research shows that consumers are buying multiple berry types, Jewell says. “When they’re displayed, they do create impulse sales,” she says. Shoppers may go into the supermarket to buy one type of berry but often take home multiple varieties when they see a display of strawberries, blueberries, raspberries and blackberries.

Bush berries continue to trend upward, Jewell says, while strawberries maintain a consistent market share.

“There is a little bit of encroachment where bush berries are taking some of the display space away from strawberries,” she says.

But grower-shippers are OK with that, since most of them supply their customers with a full range of berries.

Larger packages are becoming more common in the strawberry category, as well, Jewell says.

“People are buying more of the larger packs, especially in spring and summer,” she says.


Spring into promos

No matter the package size, spring is the ideal time to promote berries, says Jim Grabowski, director of marketing for Watsonville-based Well-Pict Berries. “Winter is over, and consumers are looking for a reason to indulge again in these delicious and healthy products,” he says.

By implementing a few simple merchandising ideas, retailers can make the new berry crops hard to resist, he says, adding that colorful berries are the No. 1 impulse buy in grocery stores.

Studies show that when berries are featured in the front of any produce aisle, sales of all produce increase 10% or more, he says.

Mother’s Day is coming (May 14), so make the most of the occasion by putting up special signage and decorations, Grabowski suggests, and cross promote with complementary items like baked goods, pastry shells, whipped toppings, chocolate and champagne.

But go beyond a visual appeal.

When shoppers sample berries, they’re four times more likely to buy, he says. “And the aroma of cut fruit is pretty much irresistible.”


Beyond breakfast

Retailers can drive incremental berry sales through in-store promotions, eye-catching displays and point-of-sale materials that showcase new recipes and usage ideas that “take berries beyond breakfast or the salad bowl,” adds CarrieAnn Arias, vice president of marketing for Dole Fresh Vegetables, Monterey, Calif.

     In fact, one of the biggest trends in berries is their growing popularity as a healthful snack, she says.

“Consumers want fresh, ripe berries year-round and not just at meal times,” she says.

To satisfy that craving, Dole came up with Go Berries! proprietary snack packs. They feature three snap-off clamshells, each containing 4 ounces of fresh strawberries, and they’re ventilated for freshness and easy rinsing. Launched in February, Go Berries! should roll out nationwide later this year.>>>



Got the blues? Good.

To promote the berry category effectively, it’s important to work with your suppliers so you can stay on top of market conditions and set appropriate price points, says Marco Nuques, West Coast sales manager for Vernon, Calif.- based Giumarra International Berry LLC.

Nuques tells customers, for example, that blueberries and blackberries complement each other well and are turning up on ads more often.

     Meanwhile, blueberry production has increased dramatically over the past two decades, according to a consumer opportunity assessment from the Folsom, Calif.-based U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council.

North America’s crop grew from 193 million pounds in 1995 to 750.2 million pounds in 2015. U.S. per capita blueberry consumption increased nearly 600% from 1994 to 2014, more than any other fruit or vegetable studied, and the industry’s research indicates further room for growth.

That rise in consumption is reflected in a trend toward larger pack sizes, says Dudley Calfe, president of the Brooksville-based Florida Blueberry Growers Association.

“Ten years ago, it was all 4.4-ounce and 6-ounce packages, and now we’re moving into pints and 16-ounce packages,” Calfe says. “People want to take home a much larger quantity of blueberries.”

As blueberries continue their amazing run, the U.S. Highbush Blueberry Council plans to launch a promotional campaign in mid-May that will run through mid-September.

“This campaign will involve the creation of new, simple recipes and promoting them in ways that fit moderate users’ needs,” says Mark Villata, executive director. “(The council) is partnering with individuals, food and fitness influencers that these consumers already look to for inspiration as a way to establish blueberries as their go-to summer food,” he says.

The campaign also will involve fresh recipe- and wellness-focused videos developed in collaboration with the website food52.com and other partners.

Blueberry demand shows no signs of fading, Calfe says.

“We’re growing and harvesting a product that’s universally liked and respected for its health benefits,” he says.

Indeed, it pays to play up the health benefits of all berries.

Strawberries, raspberries, blackberries and cranberries were the four fruits scoring highest in total antioxidant capacity on the World’s Healthiest Foods website.

Make shoppers aware of the health assets of berries by setting up a nutrition chart for berries and placing recipe cards nearby, Well-Pict’s Grabowski recommends.

“Moms appreciate additional information that helps them make healthy choices,” he says.

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