Strong opportunities for retail strawberry promotions
by Brian Gaylord | March 18, 2010
The opportunity for consumers to find good promotional deals on
strawberries for Easter and beyond was shaping up nicely as of early March.
Consumers ought to be able to buy "a nice-eating strawberry at retail for
Easter for $2 to $2.50 for a one-pound basket," Andy Gustavson, produce
manager for Ben Lomond Market in Ben Lomond, CA, and produce supervisor
for sister store Scotts Valley Market, told The Produce News March 8. "In the
past, the price was a little higher," and two one-pound packs for $4 "will be a
hot price" this Easter.
Mr. Gustavson said that his stores would be get their strawberries for Easter
primarily from Oxnard, CA, and points south, such as San Diego and Baja
He said that strawberries were commanding about $25 for an eight-pack of
one-pound strawberries at wholesale.
Mr. Gustavson said that consumers in his stores like to buy locally grown
produce when they can. "The weather here -- there's been a lot of rain, rain
every week," he said. "It's a hard time getting anything."
In Santa Maria, there was a lot of fruit on the vines but it was not ripening, he
said. But despite slow or delayed harvests in Santa Maria and the
Watsonville-Salinas area, he anticipates selling "tons of berries" for Easter.
Mr. Gustavson said that what he pays for strawberries is in line with what
large supermarket chains pay. Supply disruptions can find large chains losing
"$5 to $10 per case" just to have strawberries available, he said. But unlike
small independent operations such as Ben Lomond Market and Scotts Valley
Market, the large chains can absorb the loss, he said.
In addition to Easter, Mother's Day is a big promotional holiday for
strawberries for retailers. But Father's Day is not particularly big for
strawberry promotions by the time it comes around in late June, Mr.
Still, once strawberries start coming on in volume out of Santa Maria and the
Watsonville-Salinas area, Mr. Gustavson runs them on ad "almost every other
week," he said. Ben Lomond Market and Scotts Valley Market will try to help
his grower by placing strawberries on ad when his grower has a heavy volume
of strawberries to move, Mr. Gustavson said.
Strawberries typically continue to run strong through the Fourth of July. "After
that, strawberries lose their luster competing with the summer stuff," Mr.
Star Market in Salinas, CA, is a mid-sized, independent, family-owned store.
When The Produce News spoke March 8 with Ryan Souter, produce manager
at Star Market, an eight-ounce clamshell of strawberries was selling for
$3.99. Though much lower than January or February prices, the price still was
on the high side for strawberries. A more typical price range at Star Market is
$1.99-$2.99 for a one-pound clamshell, Mr. Souter said.
The good news for consumers at Star Market is that Easter promotions were
shaping up to offer an eight-ounce clamshell of strawberries for $1.99, he
Star Market's shoppers like their fresh produce to come from as nearby as
possible, said Mr. Souter. He'll have strawberries on ad as of March 31. Star
Market's strawberries come primarily from Watsonville-based Driscoll
Strawberry Associates and to a lesser degree from Salinas-based grower
Star Market has "tried a few varieties" from Health America in the past couple
of years, Mr. Souter said.
Star Market picks up its strawberries directly from Driscoll when Driscoll
harvests locally; when Health America harvests in Salinas, it brings
strawberries directly to Star Market.
Mr. Souter said that Star Market shoppers "like to see a 'Driscoll' label." He
added, "If the price is good and berries are good, we sell berries well here [all]
Strawberry promotions at Star Market carry through the Fourth of July. Last
year the retailer had strawberries on ad for the Fourth of July at 99 cents for
an eight-ounce clamshell.
(For more on California strawberries, see the March 22, 2010, issue of The