Suppliers are moving to the forefront in produce departments as they brand an increasing portion of their product.
Over the past five years or so, supplier produce with catchy brand names has fought for space with unbranded and national company-brand produce. When supported by national advertising and display space in store, supplier-brand sales have taken off.
- Customers look for supplier brands as they do for national companies' products.
- Club variety apples must be licensed to be grown and sold.
- Cross merchandising supplier-brand produce within the department and around the store can bring incremental sales.
There’s a shift going on in the produce department as these items fight for space.
Wonderful Halos and Pistachios have brought change to produce departments by providing customers with high-graphic in-store point-of-sale displays, including bin bases, posters and balloons, allowing these supplier brands to build eye-catching displays, according to Adam Cooper, SVP of marketing for The Wonderful Co., based in Los Angeles. “We have also changed the produce department by expanding produce purchase opportunities to other departments,” he notes. Wonderful Citrus is the leading grower, shipper, packer and distributor of citrus in North America.
As far as Wonderful Pistachios go, plant-based protein retail display bins have rolled out at point of purchase. The pistachios offer a plant-protein-powered snack to consumers, Cooper observes. The company expects the POP display to give retailers a lift in sales and propel the campaign through 2020. Wonderful no-shell pistachios are advertised nationally.
Wenatchee, Wash.-based grower/supplier Stemilt is joining with the Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH) to create the produce industry’s first pop-out merchandising display featuring the Have A Plant consumer call to action. Brentwood, Mo.-based PBH is a nonprofit national organization dedicated to the goal of helping consumers live healthier lives through eating more fruits and vegetables, and Have A Plant is its main initiative in this goal.
“We’re big supporters of PBH’s strategic transformation and the new Have A Plant call to action,” says Brianna Shales, senior marketing manager at Stemilt.
Launching in March 2020, the pop-out orchard display is a 3D tree designed to help retailers increase apple display sets promoting multiple varieties of apples at once. The display can serve as a merchandising piece for three upcoming events: March’s National Nutrition Month, Earth Day, and Family Wellness Month in May.
The display was designed with merchandising flexibility in mind. “They can help promote bulk or bagged fruit, or a combination of both,” notes Shales. “Spring is an important time to promote apples in produce, and ads featuring multiple varieties have proven to be an effective way to lift the entire category.”
Stemilt, which also displays the Have A Plant logo on its packaging, will work with retail dietitians at participating retailers to extend PBH’s promotion and messaging.
Mastronardi Produce, with headquarters in Kingsville, Ontario, describes itself as “Greenhouse Grown, Family Owned, 4th Generation.” The company has kept up with the times with its Sunset Produce and Campari tomato, the latter first branded in 1995.
According to Mastronardi, the introduction of Campari was a groundbreaking moment for the fresh produce industry and changed the way consumers look at and shop for tomatoes, noting on its website, “We established the premium category we continue to dominate.” The company didn’t stop there and is currently “revolutionizing the berry category,” according to its site, with offerings like its rebranded WOW berries, which “taste better than chocolate.”
Several years ago, in Eden Prairie, Minn., C.H. Robinson created a new business brand called Robinson Fresh. From grower development to proprietary seed development, the venture has become one of the largest produce companies in the world. Robinson Fresh is a market share leader in categories such as asparagus, corn, dry vegetables, greens, melons and tropical produce.
“Robinson Fresh reflects our progress over the past 100 years as a high-quality fresh product supplier and provides our customers, growers and employees with an identity closely aligned to fresh food,” a company representative notes.
This Produce is Special
Los Angeles-based Melissa’s/World Variety Produce is the largest specialty distributor of variety produce in the United States. “We have a brand that is special and uniquely known for its quantity of produce, and especially for great-looking and -tasting produce,” says Robert Schueller, the company’s director of public relations. Melissa’s has a line of more than 1,500 produce items. “There is not a produce item we don’t offer ... and in many cases, we are an exclusive, or one of few that actually carry certain items commercially in the U.S. marketplace,” Schueller adds.
New items for 2020 include cactus leaves (both whole and diced), also known as nopalitos. Melissa’s prepares these prickly pear leaves, including pulling the spines. Their vegetable flavor is similar to green beans or green peppers. The cactus leaves can be added to salads, soups and eggs. Another new item, Costa Azul Hot Sauce, is made from red jalapeño peppers, which are more mature and hotter than the traditional green variety, but slightly sweeter.