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Dole Gauges Ripeness of Banana Market

Produce company celebrates its 125th “Banana-versary” and shares results of consumer survey on shopping habits
Lynn Petrak, Progressive Grocer
Banana Day
Coinciding with National Banana Day and its 125th year in the banana business, Dole is launching a first wave of QR code stickers that share more banana backstories with shoppers.

Dole Food Co. is celebrating National Banana Day on April 17 in a big way, as it commemorates its 125th year in the banana business. Dubbing it their “banana-versary,” the team at Charlotte, N.C.-based Dole is planning a variety of activities along with giveaways, a robust social media campaign and the launch of a new banana-centric cookbook. 

The company’s website is the central hub for the fruit festivities. In addition to virtual celebrations, Dole is hosting events in 13 cities across the United States where it has a presence. For example, employees in those cities will visit patients at local children's hospitals along with mascot Bobby Banana. Dole will also give out free bananas on April 17 in Charlotte.

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There are in-store activations, too. Dole is adding special stickers with QR codes to millions of Dole bananas in grocery stores across North America. Retail partners are also deploying POS, recipes and other merchandising programs. 

“If bananas along with pineapples are the heart and soul of Dole, then National Banana Day is Dole’s biggest chance to celebrate our mission and legacy and honor everyone who continues to make the Musa genus the most popular fruit in the world,” said William Goldfield, director of corporate communications for Dole. “And since this year’s holiday is part of the Dole 125th Banana-versary, we want to make it a banana-lovers’ party for the ages.”

Timed with the annual nod to the banana, Dole commissioned a survey conducted by OnePoll to peel back consumers’ habits when buying bananas, produce and groceries in general. The survey confirmed that bananas are at the top of shoppers’ list of fruits and vegetables, followed by grapes and apples. 

Some other findings from the survey:

  • Almost 3 in 10 shoppers prefer to eat bananas while they are still at least partially green. One half of banana lovers look for perfectly yellow fruit with no green or brown spots. 
  • Bananas ranked as the top impulse produce purchase.
  • Bananas ranked third as a sugar replacement in recipes and cooking behind honey and maple syrup but ahead of stevia, agave and monk fruit.

Beyond banana-related insights, the survey uncovered other grocery shopping habits among respondents:

  • Americans make an average of two trips to the supermarket each week and budget $162 for each trip, or $324 for the week.
  • Perhaps not surprisingly, those who shop hungry buy more: People who go to the store on an empty stomach will spend an average of $26 more each time they visit. Close to six in 10 (59%) thought they were more likely to deviate from their health goals if they shopped while hungry.
  • 56% of respondents regularly shop with a grocery list and 79% say they are less likely to overspend when they do.
  • Americans’ favorite time to grocery shop is between 8:00 a.m. and 10:00 a.m. and their least-favorite time is between 4:00 p.m. and 6:00 p.m. 
  • Shoppers rank food variety, preparation quickness and convenience, high protein content and an inexpensive price as their highest food priorities.
  • 39% are willing to pay more for brands that commit to sourcing transparency and supply chain and environmental sustainability.

According to Goldfield, grocers can use the findings to meet shoppers' needs and tastes. “There’s a unique opportunity here for Dole to work with retailers to put some of these survey findings in produce variety and ripeness, nutrition and shopping preferences to work for them to generate even better results across the entire produce department,” he asserted. “Retailers who partner with Dole for a banana program can expect our 25 years of sustainable banana growing, unsurpassed account servicing and merchandising experience right at their stores.”

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