Turning Natural Variables into Produce Profits

Turning Natural Variables into Produce Profits

September 30, 2015
Business Skills

By Brittany Wilmes, Pear Bureau Northwest

Many shoppers are changing their buying habits to reflect their full schedules, commonly taking more trips to the grocery store each week—and probably visiting more stores in a week than ever before, particularly in dense urban areas. Shoppers are also looking for ideas and information to help them put more produce on the table for themselves and their families with preparations that are cost-conscious, healthy, and quick. The dietitian is an ideal resource for shoppers and a strong asset to category managers, especially those dealing with fluctuations in supply and agricultural trends.

Anyone who has spent time in the aisles of a grocery store knows that product supply is often in various states of flux, and nowhere is that more apparent than in the produce department. Factors such as growing trends and weather events can affect both supply and demand within produce categories, but this constant change provides opportunities for retailers to creatively merchandise new produce.

This season, for example, pears grown in the Pacific Northwest are smaller than average due to the region’s unseasonably warm spring and summer weather. When it gets too hot, the fruit stops growing, but it keeps its sweet flavor. The 1,600 pear growers in Oregon and Washington produce 84% of the nation’s fresh pear crop, so this trend has a significant impact on the pear category. Smaller fruit can mean more innovation in and out of the produce department—and increased category sales. 

Consider including pears in your activities and messaging by:

  • Appealing to shoppers with “snack-sized” fruit. Americans are reaching for healthier snacking options throughout the day, and 91% of people snack daily. Fruit is the second most popular food eaten as a between-meals-snack, and with smaller sizing this season, fresh pears are the ideal companion to other popular snack items like granola bars and cheese sticks.
  • Promoting pears for the school season. This year’s pears, including the Bartlett, Green Anjou, and Red Anjou varieties, are smaller, making available sizes more kid-friendly. Students are more likely to eat—and finish—smaller pieces of fruit at lunch or a snack break. Pear Bureau Northwest offers consumers Pear Packers, which are portable carrying cases to protect fresh pears. These can also be ordered through the Pear Bureau for store activities or community events. Category managers might consider a lunchbox cross-promotion display with pears and nut butter packets, sandwich bread, or yogurt.
  • Promoting bagged fruit on ad and in store tours. Bagged pears perform well as a second-size display with the main pear display or as a secondary display. The bagged pear category is growing, currently comprising just 11% of all pear sales, providing the average retailer with an opportunity gap of $157,000. Pears sold in paper totes or gusseted bags typically mean larger basket sizes—a great solution to keep sales figures healthy with smaller-sized individual fruit. 

By taking advantage of fluctuations and agricultural trends, retailers can increase produce sales and provide shoppers with solutions for better health. Visit www.usapears.org for more resources and delicious pear recipes and snacking tips.

Sources: Hartman Group, Nielsen Study, IRI/Freshlook Marketing